The NHL had previously released most of the details regarding the upcoming playoff format including qualifying round matchups, but there were still some points being negotiated with the NHLPA. Today, reports emerged all at once from several reporters including Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic on several other points of interest.
First, the two sides have agreed that the four playoff rounds that follow the qualification round will be best-of-seven. The qualification round, played between seeds 5-12, will still be a best-of-five series.
Second, the playoffs will be re-seeded after each round instead of using a bracket format. That will allow the top four teams in each conference to retain their advantage, though it also puts more importance on the round-robin they will play to determine final seeding. Those teams will play three games each, with the winner of the round-robin receiving the top seed. Ties will be resolved by regular season points percentage.
This means a team will still need 16 wins for a Stanley Cup, even if those playing qualification games will need a few extra just to actually join the official playoff tournament. The hope from both sides is to maintain as much “integrity” as possible in this unique season.
LeBrun does caution that these are just format agreements. The two sides still need to negotiate Phase 3 and 4, and there have only been preliminary talks so far.