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Photo Credit: © Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The 68 Game Solution

When (or if) we get a return of the NHL 2019-20 season, there is zero doubt it’s going to be done under strange circumstances and adjustments are going to be made by the league to get the season completed in the shortest amount of time possible so as to not cause too much disturbance to the 2020-21 season. One such way they may go about this is to eschew the rest of the regular season – which would be anywhere from 11 to 14 games left depending on the team – and go straight into the playoffs.

But if the NHL does opt to go right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, how do they determine who makes it? Multiple ideas have been tossed around already including basing it on what the current standings are now (good for the Winnipeg Jets), basing it on points percentage (bad for the Jets), letting the bubble teams (like the Jets) have a brief one game play-in round to see who makes the final 16, or just letting everyone (including the Detroit Red Wings for some reason) in.

And now there is an idea from TSN’s Frank Seravalli (that admittedly was inspired by the OHL): Rollback the NHL season to 68 games played and let that determine who makes the playoffs. For the Jets – along with seven other clubs – that would mean a rollback of three from the 71 games they had played. This idea, depending on how it’s executed could be both potentially bad, or potentially good for the Jets. It would really just depend on which 68 game segment you’d be looking at to count.

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If you were to take each team’s first 68 games played and ignore any results from game 69 onward, the standings would look like this:

Twitter.com/frank_seravalli

The Jets would have three wins removed – the only team in the league to have that many removed – and would be on the outside looking in on any playoff action. As Frank pointed out, the teams that make the playoffs in this scenario would be the same 16 teams that would make it in the points percentage option, but would end up with different playoff matches.

It may be also worth noting that the Jets Draft Lottery odds would be slightly better in this situation, going from a 2.5% chance of winning the first overall pick and an 8.2% chance of a top three pick, to 3% for the first pick and a 9.8% chance at a top three draft pick. If you were the type that was hoping for a lottery pick over a playoff run, this isn’t that bad an idea.

The Jets though would prefer playoff hockey and had a definitive answer to Frank’s idea on Twitter…

But wait, what if the NHL did go with the ’68 game rollback’ but decided to use the LAST 68 games played by each team? This would again cut anywhere from one to three games off of each team’s already completed schedule, but it would be the first few games that were played back in October:

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Twitter.com/frank_seravalli

Under this scenario, the Jets, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets make the post-season dance, while the Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators would be out. Winnipeg would slide into the Pacific division side of things with a first round series against the Vegas Golden Knights and then if they were to get past them, be in line for an all-Canadian showdown against either the Edmonton Oilers or Vancouver Canucks.

Nothing of course is set in stone and no plans have been made official by the NHL as of yet – but as with every other idea that’s been proposed to complete the current paused season, the Winnipeg Jets stand in a unique position, teetering on the verge of being either in or out of the playoffs.