It looks like there’s going to be a 24-team NHL playoffs with some non-playoff games included. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic broke this story, but how those games will play out is still an unanswered question. Good news! I have figured out how that can happen. For the sake of having more fun, I’m going to add a twist to the format but while this twist might not be chosen, the essence of how there can be games without playoffs will be the same. Here we go:
Due to issues with crossing borders, the NHL decides it will be easier for everyone to have an all-Canadian division for the resumption. While this is speculation it would make the two weeks in quarantine possibly easier by eliminating tons of interplay over the borders that would cause constant problems for everyone.
Here are the proposed divisions for 24-team regular season play (average points percentage in brackets):
Canadian Division (.5593)
Winnipeg Jets–Toronto Maple Leafs–Montreal Canadiens–Edmonton Oilers–Vancouver Canucks–Calgary Flames
Eastern Division (.5983)
Philadelphia Flyers–New York Islanders–New York Rangers–Boston Bruins–Nashville Predators–Chicago Blackhawks
Southeast Division (.6120)
Florida Panthers–Washington Capitals–Columbus Blue Jackets–Pittsburgh Penguins–Carolina Hurricanes–Tampa Bay Lightning
Western Division (.6010)
Vegas Golden Knights–Arizona Coyotes–St. Louis Blues–Colorado Avalanche–Dallas Stars– Minnesota Wild
As you can see, three of the four divisions are perfectly balanced playing around .600 hockey. The Canadian division played .560 hockey which seems unfair, but the Canadian dollar is unfair and Canadians invented hockey and are more polite. Finally, Trudeau is better looking than Trump. So there’s that. Let’s continue.
Each division plays in its own hub, let’s say Toronto, Nashville, Florida and Vegas. The season games before the playoffs will see each team play five games against their own division teams. From this, four teams from each division will emerge into the playoffs. All ties will be broken by the direct games between teams. Overtime will be by regular season rules.
Before I predict how this will play out I have to admit I will use pure 100% objectivity and the fact I am from Montreal and would love seeing Montreal crush Toronto’s then Boston’s soul will in no way influence my decisions and if that should take place it will be a complete coincidence. (And possibly prove the existence of God.)
Let’s pick four winners:
Canadian Division–Toronto Maple Leafs–Montreal Canadiens–Edmonton Oilers–Vancouver Canucks
Eastern Division–Philadelphia Flyers–New York Islanders–Boston Bruins–Nashville Predators
Southeast Division–Washington Capitals–Pittsburgh Penguins–Carolina Hurricanes–Tampa Bay Lightning
Western Division–Vegas Golden Knights–St. Louis Blues–Colorado Avalanche–Dallas Stars
The teams stay in their hub and play best-of-three series, 1 versus 4 and 2 versus 3.
Here are the winners:
Canadian Division–Toronto Maple Leafs–Montreal Canadiens
Eastern Division–Philadelphia Flyers–Boston Bruins
Southeast Division–Washington Capitals–Pittsburgh Penguins
Western Division–Vegas Golden Knights–St. Louis Blues
They stay in their hubs and play best-of-five quarterfinals.
The Habs, behind an insane Carey Price, defeat Toronto 3-2. The Bruins beat Philly 3-1. Washington beats Pittsburgh 3-2. Vegas beats the Blues 3-2.
Now we switch to a new hub in the states, let’s say Seattle and we play best-of-five. The Habs with an insane Price beat the Bruins 3 to 2 while Washington beats Vegas 3-1.
Then in the finals, best-of-seven, Washington versus Montreal. Now Marc Bergevin has to make a big decision. If he keeps the torrid hot Price in net and the Habs win, they lose their high draft pick. Bergevin consults with Geoff Molson and they decide to bench Price and put in Michael McNiven. The fans go insane and almost riot. McNiven is a mess and plays out of position and horribly, but Washington hits 21 goalposts in the seven games. McNiven makes ridiculous saves with the back of his head. No matter who shoots they hit him in the mask.
Meanwhile, Brendan Gallagher scores in every game. Charles Hudon has three hat tricks and the Habs win 4-3 to end the craziest playoffs ever. Molson is so disappointed he fires Bergevin. McNiven, suffering from post-traumatic stress becomes a world-famous country singer with his huge debut album, “Kovalchuk Off the Goal Post”.