When the 2019-20 season was put on hold, the New York Islanders weren’t in a playoff position. Based on reports, the Isles may still make it if the season returns.
With 80 points in 68 games before the NHL suspended the 2019-20 season, the New York Islanders were just outside of the playoffs. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets held both wildcard positions in the Eastern Conference with 81 points.
While the Hurricanes had played the same number of games as the Islanders, the Blue Jackets had played 70 games. If the NHL just went right into the playoffs when the 2019-20 season came back, the Isles would have a case to feel like they got the short end of the stick.
But then again, so would the Columbus Blue Jackets if they got bounced in a point-percentage seeding scheme. To solve this the NHL might just go with a 24 team playoff format.
Everyone Makes it (Sorta)
According to a few reports, the NHL is contemplating a 24 team playoff system when (or if) the 2019-20 season returns.
How this works remains to be seen of course, but if we just run with the theory that the top 24 teams would be included the Islanders easily make the cut as the 14th ranked team in the NHL based on points total.
I’m going to allow myself one bit of speculation here. And that’s on first-round matchups. Again, we don’t know what this 24-team playoff setup would look like, but, if it’s a straight 1v24 type of setup, the Islanders would play the Carolina Hurricanes in round one.
That’s not a great matchup for the Islanders who’ve gone 0-1-2 with a 1.67GF and 3.33GA against the Hurricanes this season. There’s also that second-round sweep from last year’s playoffs that’s still pretty fresh.
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That 24 team cut off would exclude the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, and, of course, the Detroit Red Wings.
Of all those teams the Buffalo Sabres fans have to be the most upset. Not because their team deserves to be in the playoffs, but because of how the season started and where they find themselves now. The Sabres started 8-1-1 and quickly fell down and couldn’t get back up.
But for the New York Islanders at least, in a 24-team playoff, we wouldn’t have to worry about missing. But we might have to worry about who we play first.