At USA Today, Kevin Allen writes that instead of just having a regular 48 game season with a regular style of playoffs, the NHL should add another round to the playoffs and make it more tournament style before the top 4 seeds take on the four teams that survived the first round.
Allen says that the top four teams would have a bye for the best of three first round while the 5th seed would play the 12th, 6 against 11, 7 against 10 and 8 against 9. The first game would be a home game for the lower seed and the higher seed would get the final two games.
He says that changing the playoff format would have a big impact on the regular season as well, “The competition to capture a first-round bye will be heated. With a compressed season likely, coaches will desperately covet that bye to give their teams time to rest while other teams are slugging it out to survive in the play-in round. The battle to land in No. 5 to No. 8 should be just as angst-ridden because home-ice advantage seems crucial in a best-of-three.”
Allen adds that this plays right into the spirit of the playoffs with another layer being added in the chase for the Stanley Cup.