On May 26th, the NHL announced that the “Return to Play Plan” would consist of 24 teams. Although a return date has not been set, the composition of the 2019-2020 NHL Playoffs has come to official terms.
The amount of games in the qualifying round was just announced to be a best-of-five series. The ensuing playoffs would be a conference based, best-of-seven series, as past playoff formats have consisted of.
A few things to note about the differences of the current playoff formatting:
- The seeding is reformatted after each round.
- The highest seed in the Western Conference will play the lowest Western Conference seed at the end of each series, regardless of division. The same is true for the Eastern Conference.
- Home ice advantage will be determined by whoever had the highest point percentage during the regular season.
- Point percentage needs to be determined, as opposed to whoever had the most points, because the teams played different amount of regular season games.
- Fans will not be allowed at the games.
The last point especially may make newer hockey fans wonder why “home ice” would have any type of advantage or disadvantage. Whichever time is at “home”, is allowed to have the last line change, before play resumes. This gives the home team the opportunity to create mis matches in the lines to their advantage.
For example, if the faceoff is in the offensive zone, and the away team puts out their third or fourth line, the home team has the chance to send in their first line to put in some work and create easier scoring chances. The opposite would also be true, be the puck in the defensive zone, and you see the away team’s first line going to the face off, the home team may send in their first defensive unit.
Phase Three, of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan will consist of NHL teams resuming their training regimens. The Fourth phase, will determine which cities the NHL will name main hubs, to limit potential and exposure for NHL players and personel.
Negotiations for the remaining two phases are still on going and no official dates have been named as of yet.
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