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Suggested NHL playoff format would see Calgary Flames meet Winnipeg Jets in round one

A proposed playoff format for when hockey resumes following the pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic could see the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets square off in the first round.

The format, which would see eight teams get a bye and 16 teams battle it out in a best-of-three play-in, is rumoured to be favourd by NHL front offices, Sportsnet’s Chris 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

Some suggestions have surfaced about a March Madness-style bracket, Johnston added, and that the aforementioned format could give some teams the chance to recoup some lost revenue.

Who knows what will come next.

On Twitter: @zjlaing