Friday is an important day for the National Hockey League. Players across the league are in the process of voting for a return to play plan that would see them pivot straight into a 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs. As it turns out, the NHLPA turned down an earlier proposal for the tournament.
During an appearance on Sportsnet 590's "Lead Off," NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that the play-in round of the tournament was initially supposed to be a best-of-three series. Yet, players disapproved of the idea because they were terrified of playing a short first round against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane.
To be more specific, players on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers were fully against the idea.
The Penguins weren't fond of the plan of playing a short series against Montreal. That's due to the team initially having no shot of even making the playoffs this season under the normal format. Plus, they know how dominant Price is once the postseason hits.
Price has made it to the playoff eight times in his career, and he's tallied a .914 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against average in 60 games. While yes, Price has a 25-31 record in those games, he's essentially like a brick wall in the crease. The Penguins want to wear him down, and that can't happen in three games.
As for the Oilers, they want more games to try and combat the elite play of Kane, and understandably so. In nine postseason runs, Kane has scored 50 goals and notched 73 assists in 127 games. Those statistics netted him a Conn Smythe Award in 2013 and three Stanley Cups. Hockey fans know all too well that once Kane heats up, there's no stopping the Blackhawks.
The latest playoff format will feature the four top teams in each conference playing against each other for playoff seeding. As for the remaining eight teams per conference, they'll play in a best-of-five round to earn a spot in the first round of the tournament. A decision is expected to be announced no later than Friday evening.
If approved, that will bring us one step closer to getting hockey back this summer.