It appears like the most likely option for the playoffs in 2021 is divisional play. Here’s what that means for the Islanders.
According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, there seems to be three thoughts when it comes to the NHL playoffs in 2021. The first, and most likely, is the divisional playoff format which we’ll discuss today and how it impacts the Islanders.
Due to COVID restrictions, the Canadian teams in the NHL are likely to create their own division for the 2021 season. That would leave four divisions: Canada, East, Central, and West.
Canada would be made up of Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. The East would be Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, New Jersey, the Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, and Washington.
In the Central, you have Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay. Out West, Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, and Vegas.
Obviously, the divisions would have to be a little different, each having eight teams except for Canada’s seven.
In this format, the top-four teams in each division would play each other. The one seed would play the four while the two and the three play while the winners advance. Eventually, you’d have the Canada winner vs the East winner and the West vs the Central in the Conference Final.
In this scenario, you kick the can down the road in terms of figuring out the border issue. While it’s not a perfect plan, it does to me sound like the best plan. Since the Trotz era, here is how the Islanders have faired against each of their divisional opponents (including the playoffs):
Islanders vs Boston: 1-5
Islanders vs Buffalo: 4-1
Islanders vs Carolina: 3-8
Islanders vs Devils: 5-1
Islanders vs Rangers: 3-5
Islanders vs Flyers: 9-5
Islanders vs Capitals: 8-5
The Islanders have had success against Buffalo, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington while struggling against Boston, Carolina, and the Rangers. Obviously, things change year over year but lately, the Islanders would want no part of the Bruins or Canes.
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This isn’t locked in as the plan, but as I said earlier this plan seems to make the most sense based on the information we know to date.