24-Team Playoff Format
Vegas Golden Knights (VGK) player Jonathan Marchessault celebrating his goal against St. Louis Blues. Photo by Isaac Brekken.

The National Hockey League (NHL) will be returning soon. The original plan has been aborted, but the new schedule is more interesting. The executive board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association has agreed to finish the season with a 24-team playoff format.

In a 29-2 vote, it was agreed upon to go right into playoffs when games return. As of right now, many teams have entered the Phase 2 portion of returning.

In Phase 2, players can volunteer to attend practices. Before this can happen, each person must be tested and wait 48 hours until they can practice. If a player has had to travel through public transportation (like flying) to attend practice, they must self-quarantine for two weeks before returning.

With the new plan, the top four seeds in each conference will play through a best-of-five, featuring seeds 5 through 12. The standings are taken from when the league stopped on March 12. Once the teams are narrowed down to the regular 16 teams, playoffs will continue as normal.

A problem that is being faced is choosing the hub cities for the games due to travel restrictions. Las Vegas is looking like it will be one of them due to the accommodation capacity and location of the arena. There is a high probability that this will be the location of the championship rounds as well. Some other cities that are in the running are Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto and Columbus.

Current Playoff Standings

By changing the format of how the playoffs will go for the rest of the season, that is heavily impacting the original standings of the season. Since there have been eight more teams added, the 24-team playoffs will give teams a chance to go further than previously thought.

Here is a breakdown of the current standings for the 24-team playoff format.

Eastern Conference

Top seeds: Boston Bruins (1), Tampa Bay Lightning (2), Washington Capitals (3), Philadelphia Flyers (4)

Play-in series: Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Montreal Canadiens (12)

Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs. New York Rangers (11)

New York Islanders (7) vs. Florida Panthers (10)

Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

Western Conference

Top seeds: St. Louis Blues (1), Colorado Avalanche (2), Vegas Golden Knights (3), Dallas Stars (4).

Play-in series: Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12)

Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11)

Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10)

Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9)