If the NHL resumes, it will likely have a different version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A proposed 24 team bracket would be perfect.
The NHL is currently on hiatus thanks to the coronavirus. Recent laws passed by states and guidelines suggested by the CDC put a return in mid-May at the earliest. However, it’s not likely we’re going to see hockey until the summer. This means we’re probably going to see a different version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
One of the proposed ideas is a 24 team bracket. KHL reporter Igor Eronko was the first to tweet about it. Furthermore, Darren Dreger is reporting that at least one team endorses the idea.
Frankly, this would be the best possible setup for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Playoff hockey is already the best. It’s light years better than the MLB playoffs. The NFL postseason lacks the drama and the intensity of a seven-game series. And the NBA postseason isn’t quite as exciting. Adding even more drama to the NHL postseason would make it even better.
Who Would Make It?
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Let’s take a look at how it would look for both conferences. We’re using point percentage since it’s not likely we’re getting any more regular season games. Each division winner will get one of the top two spots in the conference. The top six spots will be given to the top three teams in each division, with the remaining two spots in the top eight going to the wild card teams.
1 Boston Bruins vs. 12 Montreal Canadiens
2 Washington Capitals vs. 11 New York Rangers
3 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 10 Florida Panthers
4 Philadelphia Flyers vs. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets
5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 8 New York Islanders
6 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 7 Carolina Hurricanes
Already, we’ve got some very intriguing first-round matchups. The Bruins versus Canadiens rivalry is one of the best in the NHL. And we’re getting it in the first round! Also, the Rangers versus the Capitals could be interesting. The Rangers have been red-hot (though this break is going to kill any momentum they had). Still, they’ve played the Capitals quite tough so far this season.
Don’t sleep on that Maple Leafs versus Hurricanes matchup either. That’s a fascinating matchup between two fast and skilled teams with questionable goaltending. Sounds like a high-scoring series to me!
1 St. Louis Blues vs. 12 Chicago Blackhawks
2 Vegas Golden Knights vs. 11 Arizona Coyotes
3 Colorado Avalanche vs. 10 Minnesota Wild
4 Dallas Stars vs. 9 Winnipeg Jets
5 Edmonton Oilers vs. 8 Calgary Flames
6 Vancouver Canucks vs. 7 Nashville Predators
Though the matchups aren’t as fascinating as the ones in the Eastern Conference, these matchups are still really good. I love the Blues versus the Blackhawks in the first round.
Now, the proposal reportedly has the non-wild card teams playing in a qualifier against the wild card teams. But that’s not fun, nor is it chaotic. Deep down, human beings love chaos. They love drama. It’s what draws us to hockey, the most chaotic and cruel of the four major sports.
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With a format designed to create chaos and fascinating matchups, all eyes would be on the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL needs to do something to stand out among the four major sports. This would be one heck of a way to do it.