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Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers would square off in rumoured NHL playoffs format

A playoff format believed to be favoured by NHL front officers would see the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers square off in the first round of the playoffs following the pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The format, which would see 24-teams get a shot at Lord Stanley, could see eight teams get a bye in the first round with 16 teams lining up to play in a best-of-three play-in, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported.

In the west, St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Edmonton get a bye, while in the east, Boston, Tampa, Washington and Philadelphia would sit out the first round.

Those initial games could be held across four days in a fashion similar to how the NHL began the 1978 Stanley Cup Playoffs and set the matchups for Round 1.

The concept isn’t without seeding challenges. Teams had played an uneven number of games when the regular season was paused last week, so points percentage would have to be used. And there’s also a belief among clubs that there would need to be a nod to the divisions rather than just a straight conference ranking.

That would see Toronto bumped to a higher seed as the team with the third-best points percentage in the Atlantic Division, and Edmonton and Vancouver seeded higher due to their standing in the Pacific.

The seedings could end up looking something like this as a result:

East

1. Boston (.714)

2. Tampa (.657)

3. Washington (.652)

4. Philadelphia (.645)

5. Pittsburgh (.623)

6. Toronto (.579, 3rd Atlantic)

7. Carolina (.596)

8. N.Y. Islanders (.588)

9. Columbus (.579)

10. Florida (.565)

11. N.Y. Rangers (.564)

12. Montreal (.500)

West

1. St. Louis (.662)

2. Colorado (.657)

3. Vegas (.606)

4. Edmonton (.585, 2nd Pacific)

5. Dallas (.594)

6. Vancouver (.565, 3rd Pacific)

7. Nashville (.565)

8. Calgary (.564)

9. Winnipeg (.563)

10. Minnesota (.558)

11. Arizona (.529)

12. Chicago (.514)

Using these assumptions, the play-in series would look like this:

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal

Toronto vs. N.Y. Rangers

Carolina vs. Florida

N.Y. Islanders vs. Columbus

Dallas vs. Chicago

Vancouver vs. Arizona

Nashville vs. Minnesota

Calgary vs. Winnipeg

Sportsnet

The chance for a format like this would give many teams a chance to recoup some lost revenues. Johnston added there have been some suggestions of a March Madness-style bracket, but in these times who knows what’s coming.

On Twitter: @zjlaing