The National Hockey League announced some more details of their playoff format this afternoon as the two sides continue to hammer out of the 2019-2020 Return to Play Plan. The updated details included series lengths, seeding format, tiebreakers, and home ice procedures which will take place in the two undecided host cities.
One of the many question marks that highlighted the Return To Play Plan was how the series lengths would shake out throughout each round. Originally, the initial rumors had the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final as the only “confirmed” best-of-seven series. With the recent agreement between the NHL and NHLPA, the Qualifying Round will be the only round composed of a best-of-five series, while all succeeding rounds will be a traditional best-of-seven series.
In addition to the series lengths, both sides came to agreement on the “seeding” format as teams advance throughout the bracket. The highest remaining seed in each conference will go up against the lowest remaining seed, while the remainder of the teams will also reseed based on their original seed positioning.
Round Robin Tiebreaker
The top four teams in each conference will play a mini round robin series during the Qualifying Round to determine the top seeds heading into the first round. In the event that two teams are tied in points at the conclusion of the round robin, the tiebreaker will go to the team with the higher regular season points percentage.
Home Ice Designation
Being that the playoff games will be held in neutral locations, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in the following scenarios:
- For the qualifying round, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team for Games 1, 2, and 5.
- During the First Round, Second Round and Conference Finals, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team for Games 1, 2, 5, and 7.
- In the Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team for Games 1, 2, 5, and 7.
This is where things get interesting for the Rangers, as legally, they aren’t permitted to host a “home” game outside of Madison Square Garden. There may be some exceptions as it pertains to an ongoing pandemic, so we’ll see how that all plays out as more details emerge.