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Suggested NHL playoff format would see Vancouver Canucks face Arizona Coyotes

A rumored playoff format to finish the NHL season would see the Vancouver Canucks square off with the Arizona Coyotes in the first round following the break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concept, which is believed to be favored by multiple NHL front officers according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, would see 24 teams make the postseason with eight getting a first-round bye.

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

The remaining 16 teams? They would battle it out in a best-of-three play-in, Johnston reported.

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

It would give an opportunity for nearly every team to recoup some lost revenue and apparently, there have been some suggestions around the league of a March Madness-style bracket.

In these strange times, who knows what could happen.

On Twitter: @zjlaing