It’s all starting to unravel in front of our very eyes as the NHL is taking a step closer towards resuming play, which means that the Florida Panthers are close within sight.
It was reported on May 22 that the NHLPA had agreed to the issued playoff format that would include 24 teams. This means that the Florida Panthers, who haven’t seen playoff action since 2015-16, would be included as one of the teams for the revised summer playoffs.
With the playoffs altered completely to accommodate towards the very late start – along with the safety of players, coaches, trainers, etc. – the postseason will understandably be different in format, which will begin with a “play-in series.”
The play-in series technically isn’t considered “playoff hockey” as it was put in place to accommodate bubble teams who were sitting just below or inside a playoff spot. Considering that the pandemic cut their season short, this gives them a chance to play in a best-of-five series that will determine whether or not they move on to the last 16 – which is the regular number of teams accepted into the playoffs annually.
The Panthers are technically considered a “bubble team” as they were sitting just three points behind both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets for the third and final spot in the Atlantic Division and wild-card race, respectively. With re-seeding done to match teams up accordingly with the new playoff format, the Panthers will be set to face the New York Islanders – a rematch from 2016.
Of course, the league still needs to iron out all the fine details pertaining to the playoff format, as well as the return date. So far, the basis of it has been released to the general public, but the logistics still need to be fine-tuned before we can hit the ground running.
The league made another step towards progress by announcing the Phase 2 framework. This phase will act as a transition period following self-quarantine, which will allow players to gradually (and restrictedly) hit the ice again. No more than six players can be in a practice facility at once, while coaches and other personnel are prohibited from being on the ice during players-only on-ice sessions. Additional information relating to Phase 2 can be found in the league’s official document.
We’re still a ways away from resuming play entirely, but with each phase put in place for future implementation, it’s only a matter of time until we will see hockey again. Patience will be required as each phase needs to be implemented and completed before moving onto the next step.
Stay tuned for more relating to your Florida Panthers as we anxiously wait for the implementation of Phase 2.