The postseason picture has just become a little bit clearer for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Rewind a couple of weeks ago when the NHL revealed their Return To Play Plan, which featured the Vegas Golden Knights as a top seed as part of a 24-team Playoff format.
When those details were revealed, it was clear that there were still issues to be thrashed out including whether the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs would be bracketed or reseeded.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 4, 2020
Another key caveat was whether the First Round of the Playoffs would be a best-of-seven series, or mirror the best-of-five Play-In games.
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Now we have our answer to both questions.
Announced on Friday by the National Hockey League, seeding will be used throughout the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Which is tremendous news.
And, also, while the Play-In series will be a best-of-five, all rounds of the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs will be the usual best-of-seven format, which protects the integrity of the cup.
But back to the seeding element of this.
Per the NHL’s statement, in each succeeding round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the highest remaining seed in each conference will face the lowest remaining seed, the second-highest remaining seed will take on the second-lowest seed and so on.
Home-ice advantage, although that term will be used loosely this year, will go to the higher seed throughout the Playoffs except for the Stanley Cup Final where home-ice advantage will go to the team with the highest regular season points percentage.
Why the Golden Knights benefit
As has been the case throughout this process, the Vegas Golden Knights stand to benefit from the 24-team format.
But this latest announcement from the NHL brings one major change for the Knights.
With the three-game, in-conference round-robin tournament now going to dictate seedings for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the contests against the St. Louis Blues, the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars will take on even more importance for the Golden Knights.
Currently the third seed, Vegas now has the chance to claim the top seed for the postseason, thus clinching home-ice advantage for the duration of the Playoffs.
That could change in the Stanley Cup Final depending on who the opponent is and their regular season points percentage, but the Golden Knights will be a top seed and will have an early bye regardless of what happens in the round-robin tournament.
And that is a huge plus.
The Golden Knights basically control their own destiny but the better they fare in the round-robin tournament the easier their path to the Stanley Cup Final will be.
In theory anyway.
Parity is a huge attraction and a gigantic selling point for the NHL, so upsets are possible in any round and anything can happen, as we saw in the First Round of the Playoffs last year when the Knights collapsed against the San Jose Sharks.
But, no matter what happens, the Golden Knights will have home-ice advantage for Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 through the Western Conference Final.
And, although home-ice advantage won’t be quite the same this year as in previous years, the Golden Knights will have certain advantages when it comes to things like easier shifts and line changes.
Why this is a huge win for the NHL
I’ve always been a huge fan of the 24-team format and these latest tweaks have got the thumbs up from me.
Firstly, sticking with the usual format by making each series a best-of-seven is huge when it comes to protecting the integrity of the Stanley Cup.
There was some thought that the First and Second Rounds would follow in the footsteps of the Play-In games by going best-of-five, but sticking with the best-of-seven is the best way forward.
Although we live in unprecedented times right now, you don’t want to mess with history or tradition too much.
Especially when it comes to something as sacred as the Stanley Cup.
Also, reseeding is something the players have pushed for for a very long time and they have finally got their wish.
And its great news for the NHL and for hockey fans.
It means that the top seeds actually get a reward for finishing as a top seed, and it does also create some potentially mouthwatering matchups while ensuring that elite teams don’t get bounced too early on.
Overall, introducing reseeding and keeping the traditional best-of-seven series are both smart moves and reseeding in particular works incredibly well for the Vegas Golden Knights.