As things stand, the NHL fully intends to resume game action at some point. However, although every team still has at least 11 games remaining on the schedule, it appears that not all of them will be lacing up their skates again in 2019-20. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports (subscription required) that it is widely believed that the season is now finished for teams that have no chance of making the playoffs.
This could mean a few different things. One is that the playoffs will be set by the current regular season standings (perhaps by points percentage instead of points to account for the discrepancy in games played as some teams have 14 contests left on the schedule). But that won’t go over well with teams that are just on the edge of being out and there are battles for top-three placement and Wild Card spots across the league.
If they do resume with an abbreviated regular season, how many teams will be allowed to play? Technically, only one (Detroit) has mathematically been eliminated from a playoff spot. A team like Chicago is six points out of a Wild Card position and while it’s unlikely that gap can be closed, it’s not impossible either depending on the number of regular season games played. Another alternative that will be thrown around is a mini-tournament for playoff bubble teams.
Of course, a lot will depend on how this pause in the schedule lasts. If they’re back in action within the next few weeks (their timeline for self-quarantine suggests they’re targeting a quicker return date than the NBA which has already ruled out 30 days), there’s certainly a possibility that a set of regular season games could still be done. But if it’s a prolonged break, then that might not be the case. At the very least though, it seems like some teams may be done already.