Blackhawks Land Playoff Berth In 24-Team Format

Should action resume, the Blackhawks will face the Oilers in the qualifying round.

Chris Emma
May 26, 2020 - 3:54 pm
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(670 The Score) Previously out of the playoff picture, the Blackhawks will compete for the Stanley Cup in the NHL's expanded 24-team postseason format should the league resume play of its suspended season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHL announced its return-to-play plan and revised playoff structure Tuesday afternoon. While it doesn't guarantee that the season will resume, it was a big step forward. The NHL and players' union still must figure out and agree to health and safety protocols.

In Western Conference action, the 12th-seeded Blackhawks will face the fifth-seeded Oilers in a best-of-five series that the NHL has added and is calling the qualifying round of the playoffs. After those series are completed, the league will be down to its usual 16 playoff teams. The top four teams in each conference in the current standings will receive an initial bye in the playoffs but will compete against one another in a round-robin format to determine the order of the top four seeds.

Before the NHL suspended its regular season on March 12, the Blackhawks were six points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with just 12 games remaining. The remainder of the NHL's regular season has been canceled.

The NHL plans to hold its postseason with the top 12 teams from each conference, with the East and West set to convene and compete in two hub cities. Chicago is being considered as one of the NHL's hub cities, the league announced Tuesday. Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver are also in consideration. The league wants to gather more information on the health and safety front before officially announcing its hub cities.

The conference finals series and the Stanley Cup Final will utilize a best-of-seven format, the league confirmed Tuesday. It remains uncertain what format the traditional first and second rounds of the playoffs will use.

The league hasn't yet set a start date for the playoffs.