Seravalli: How a 68 game loss could be the fairest NHL standings


Columnist image

For the first time since the National Hockey League break on March 12, Commissioner Gary Bettman admitted on Tuesday that the regular season may not be over.

“The best thing and the simplest thing would be to end the regular season and then move on to the playoffs as we normally do, but we understand that this may not be possible,” Bettman said in an interview with NBCSN.

“This is why we are considering all imaginable alternatives to deal with any eventuality. “

The majority of NHL stars who have spoken publicly – about Connor McDavid at Sergei Bobrovsky – were resolved in their desire for regular season action before stepping into the pressure cooker for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Unless you play the remaining 15% of the calendar, the ideal scenario would be to bring together at least the 31 teams on a level ice surface in terms of games played.

But even that would be difficult now. Eight teams played in 71 games, while two others (Carolina and the Islanders) played as few as 68 games. Creating a shortened balanced schedule in which each team would play the same number of pre-qualifying games while finishing with the same number of games played during the season would be nearly impossible.

To date, the idea of ​​percentage points has received the most attention in determining a 16-team playoff for the Stanley Cup.

But there may be another, more equitable, way if the regular season is canceled.


The Ontario Hockey League deserves credit for this idea. Since all OHL teams had played at least 61 games when the season was canceled, their priority lottery rankings were formulated using the total points accumulated by each team over 61 games.

In other words, any game beyond 61 played has been deleted.

The same principle could apply to the NHL. Call it the 68 game rollback.

According to the plan, only each of the team’s first 68 games of the season would count towards the playoff table.

Eight teams would have three games denied, 11 teams, two each; and 10 teams, one each.

Interestingly, the same 16 teams that would qualify under the percentage of points would also qualify in the return scenario in 68 games.

Percentage of points

Central Division
1 St. Louis against WC2 Calgary
2 Colorado vs 3 Dallas

Pacific Division
1 Vegas vs. WC2 Nashville
2 Edmonton vs. 3 Vancouver

Metropolitan Division
1 Washington vs. WC1 Caroline
2 Philadelphia vs. 3 Pittsburgh

Atlantic Division
1 Boston vs WC2 Islanders
2 Tampa vs 3 Toronto

Rollback 68 games

Central Division
1 Colorado against WC2 Vancouver
2 St. Louis vs. 3 Dallas

Pacific Division
1 Vegas vs. WC1 Nashville
2 Edmonton vs. 3 Calgary

Metropolitan Division
1 Philadelphia vs. WC1 Carolina
2 Washington vs 3 Pittsburgh

Atlantic Division
1 Boston vs WC2 Islanders
2 Tampa vs 3 Toronto

The clashes would be juicier in the 68-game rollback. A battle of Alberta, Sidney Crosby against Alex Ovechkin, plus Vegas versus NashVegas – all in the first round – would be called sensory overload.

Going back could be seen as the most equitable solution to an untenable problem as it eliminates the debate between the points accumulated and the percentage of points.

With an unbalanced number of games played, teams with more points say they have actually earned the points, while those with fewer games say they have been denied this opportunity.

Nor is it unprecedented. Twice in the past 25 years, with two lockouts in 2013 and 1995, the Stanley Cup playoffs began after a shortened 48-game schedule.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here