New York Islanders: Impact of Potential Playoff Format

Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The NHL looks as if it will be finishing the 2020 season, but with a format nobody has ever seen. How will this impact the Islanders?

The New York Islanders were one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed they fell down the ranks a bit. When the season came to a crashing halt due to COVID-19, the Islanders were just outside the playoffs with a record of 35-23-10.

However, if the NHL returns to play it will likely be in the format of a 24-team playoff to determine the winner of the Stanley Cup. This means the Islanders would then make the playoffs due to the fact they have the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference, and the 14th best record in the league overall.

This is the official tweet that the National Hockey League Players Association put out:

This means that a 24-team playoff format is not something that is guaranteed, but it has been proposed and it is the only return to play plan we have seen out of the NHL up to this point.

This impacts the Islanders quite a bit because it means they will play in the playoffs regardless of what happens. The question is however, how will seeding be determined?

Will they go by conference, or just go by the league as a whole and do away with the Eastern and Western Conferences just for the playoffs? Also, since some teams played more games than others, will seeding be determined by win percentage?

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For example, although the Islanders are currently ninth in the East, they played only 68 games while the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, who are seventh and eighth, have played 70. Because of this, the Islanders have a higher win percentage than both Toronto and Columbus but have one less point at the moment.

One would assume they would change up the value of points so it’s relative and fair to those who have played fewer games than others, but we will have to wait and see. This will be a big decision as it will drastically change several first-round matchups.

It will also be interesting to see how the NHL decides to go about a 24-team playoff. Will it be a one-game series, maybe three? However they do it, I assume at least the first round will be less than the typical seven-game series due to the fact that if they did a seven-game series for each round, the playoffs would last until September which would mess up the 2021 season.

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Nonetheless, this is huge news and we could potentially see players return to the ice in the very near future.