National Hockey League mulls return with 24-team playoffs

Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin, of Sweden has the puck against St. Louis Blues Oskar Sundqvist, Sweden of an NHL hockey game Sunday Feb. 23 2020 in St. Paul Minn

Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin, of Sweden has the puck against St. Louis Blues Oskar Sundqvist, Sweden of an NHL hockey game Sunday Feb. 23 2020 in St. Paul Minn

It would be based on Conference and points percentage. The second seed would play the victor of the play-in series between the 7 and 10 seeds, with the conference's top seed awaiting the victor of the No. 8 vs.

The 24-team format, as reported by Sportsnet on Wednesday, would involve the top four teams in each conference (as determined by points percentage) receiving byes through the play-in round, but they would play three in-conference games during the play-in round, with the results somehow contributing to the seeding in the second phase of the playoffs.

Now, before we go any further, it's important to stress that this format hasn't yet been finalized or approved. While admitting the league could use the financial boost from the extra teams, one executive told Lebrun he thinks "20 teams would have been a more fair representation of the playoff races". And of course nothing happens without the league's blessing, too.

The NHL season has been on pause since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The No. 5 through No. 12 seeded teams in each conference would play best-of-five series.

This format would lead to the traditional four rounds of seven-game series.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens would also make it in the East and the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks in the West.

Sources say there was consideration given to taking the regular-season results and making that kind of upset more hard - say putting Montreal down 1-0 to start its series or requiring it to sweep the Penguins to move on - but there was no formula that was deemed to make sense.

Flawless is not the goal in any decision made by the National Hockey League right now. The play-in series would be best of five.

Under the circumstances, it's hard to do much better than that.

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