- The Washington Times
Thursday, June 4, 2020

The NHL released further details about its playoff format Thursday under its restart plan. 

With 24 teams returning, 16 teams will participate in a qualifying round with a best-of-five format. The other eight who have already clinched a playoff spot will participate in a round-robin tournament to determine seeding.

After the qualifying round, the postseason will then be a best-of-seven format with its usual four rounds: first round, second round, conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final.

Each round will be reseeded. The team with the highest seed will face the lowest possible seed, the second-highest seed with face the second-lowest seed and so on. 

When the NHL initially announced its return plan last week, it was unsure if the postseason would feature a locked-in bracket or if they would reseed in each round. They chose the latter.

The Washington Capitals will play in the round robin, in which the top four teams from each conference will face each other once. This means Washington will match up against the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers. Tiebreakers are broken down by regular season winning percentage.

Also Thursday, the NHL said teams could reopen facilities and players could take part in limited, voluntary workouts beginning Monday.

Players can skate in groups of up to six at a time under “phase 2,” which includes specific instructions on testing, mask-wearing and temperature checks. 

The NHL still has to announce safety protocols and where the actual games will take place. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will play in two hub cities with a dozen teams stationed in each location. 

The NHL halted play March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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