Potential NHL Playoff Adjustments due to the US-Canada Border
With an average of around 6 games to go for the remainder of the 2021 NHL season, many are wondering who will clinch the final spots across the four divisions. The Stanley Cup is still a while away as we turn our attention to the postseason playoffs and all that it brings!
While most of the focus is on hockey and what will unfold in the remaining games this season, there is another issue that has been raised as a result of government regulationsregarding travel.
The Maple Leafs, Oilers, and Jets have all looked quite strong this season. While many sportsbooks don’t offer great odds for those teams winning this year, those teams certainly have the quality to compete. It would be hugely disappointing if the North Division were unable to compete for whatever reason.
What could the adjustments be for the NHL Playoffs?
While the board of directors is the National Hockey League wants to provide the most entertaining postseason possible, prioritizing health and safety for players, staff and fans are of the utmost importance.
Many sports leagues across the globe have made great sacrifices to ensure the safety of players throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be irresponsible of the NHL to allow anything to slip at this point, especially when they’ve maintained such high standards throughout this difficult period.
Given the current situation, it’s possible that teams won’t be able to travel through Canada to play playoff matches. A statement released by Commissioner Bettman stated that he would make the necessary adjustments to ensure the playoffs are completed.
The Scotia North Division features seven Canadian teams. While this is one less than the other teams featuring in the other divisions, the top four will still progress to the postseason under the current rules. The playoff format means that the Canada-based teams will compete within the division for the first two rounds of playoffs, which will determine the teams who will advance to the NHL semifinals.
At this point, the winner will play one of the winners of the other three divisions—the East Division, Central Division, and the West Division—this is the point that has become a big part of the discussion, as it’s when NHL teams would need to cross the Canada-United States border.
Government regulations on both sides of the border are due to cause issues for the playoffs. With the commissioner exploring all possible options, there is little doubt that the games will go ahead for Canadians, it’s just a case of where.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown all kinds of strategic and planning issues at the league, but each time the NHL has managed to overcome the issues and provide quality hockey for fans to enjoy.
We saw a similar thing last season when the NHL playoffs took place in hub cities Edmonton and Toronto. This season it was the San Jose Sharks who had to make massive adjustments, playing their first 12 games of the season on the road in order to avoid the tough restrictions that were in place in California.
The NHL has conducted itself impeccably in the last few years and it is important that they maintain this reputation, while making sure the playoffs feature the best NHL teams in North America. It looks like the Canadiens will claim the fourth spot and we look forward to seeing how Canada’s best compete when the Playoffs start on May 11th.