The NHL Can Not Go More Than its 16-team Playoff Format
Feb 29, 2020; Uniondale, New York, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media announcing that the Islanders will play all this years playoff games and all next years home games at the Nassau Colisuem prior to the game against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The NHL is still trying to experiment with how to proceed when the COVID-19 pandemic is all over and finished with. The NHL is not sure whether it wants to put teams in the playoffs by just points, or even to finish the regular season period.
It will be interesting to see what happens but nonetheless, don’t expect any games to be played until at least the middle of May at the earliest.
But if the NHL decided to add more teams to the playoffs this season due to the unforeseen circumstances, this could potentially be a big mistake moving forward.
What if this new format because of the coronavirus works? The NHL is never going to want to change it because of the possibility of an amazing cash grab. There are talks that it could potentially be more than eight teams in each conference, and I think it would be a huge mistake.
Having more teams in the playoffs is not the answer. I know that some teams would not get the benefit of the doubt, but at this point, the playoff teams are pretty much ironed out. The remaining games might make a tiny difference, but the season is so far along, forfeiting the rest of the season to just get to the playoffs just makes sense.
There are five teams that would be on the bubble when it comes to either points or points percentage. They are the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15 record with 81 points so far this season), the New York Islanders (35-23-10 record with 80 points so far this season), the Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6 record with 80 points so far this season), the Nashville Predators (35-26-8 record with 78 points), and the Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6 record with 78 points so far this season).
These teams will be hurt the most, but considering the reward for making it might be a drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins or St. Louis Blues, it’s not that much of a loss.
The NHL should keep the playoff structure as it is now. Because if an expanded system works this season because it’s a special case, the NHL might want to keep it in place, further watering down an intense product that is unique among sports.