The Stanley cup format. As the league is returning to play after the long break due to the coronavirus, the format for resuming the playoffs is a different one than you’d expect from a regular, no-force Majeure season.
Instead of the usual 16 teams, the Stanley Cup playoffs will include 24 contenders, and there will be four rounds, each a best-of-seven. The reseeding format is arguably a step in the right direction, as many people have been eager for it to be implemented for a long time. But there are some issues.
How Will It Work
The problems arise with the implementation. Pre-shutdown, each team played 70+ games in a regular season, and the top 4 seeds are easy to identify – at least in theory.
But the league chose to omit the results almost completely and give out the seeding spots based on a three-game stage before the play-offs NHL. The only way the regular season results will affect the seeding position is when there is a tie to break.
Specifically, the league will introduce a play-in stage where 16 teams that are not in the top four seeding positions will compete for a chance to proceed to the next round. Each game will be a best-of-five, with the top eight contenders moving forward.
Now, the four best teams from each conference will automatically skip the above-mentioned stage, and instead play three games against each other, which will decide their seeding positions for the next one.
The Boston Bruins had an eight-point advantage over the second team in the Eastern Conference after 70 regular-season games. The team earned its number one seeding spot and demonstrated clear dominance throughout the season.
Now, the Bruins have to keep the flawless record (read win) for the next three games, otherwise, they lose their hard-earned spot. That seems a little counter-intuitive given that the teams have been on a lengthy break and getting into shape might take a minute. If the Bruins lose at least one game, their advantage goes away.
The short round-robin competition might be a very dramatic way to kick-off the play-offs after the pandemic lockdown, but the unpredictability might raise some questions when one of the teams becomes the Stanley Cup champion and the naysayers decide to doubt the legitimacy of the title.
Do you consider the new reseeding decision to be fair? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Also, you can read about the NHL’s returning in June: the Phase 2 Plan.