The Toronto Maple Leafs are part of the 24-team post-season. If they make it all the way to hoisting the Stanley Cup, it will be a harder path than usual.
Would the season resume, with teams playing all 82 games?
Could there be a way that playoffs would still be scheduled?
Was the Stanley Cup going to be awarded this year?
We now have some of those answers, as the league is continuing to move forward and progress through their Return to Play Plan.
The Path Through These Playoffs
The Leafs will faceoff against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their Qualifying Round. Each conference has eight teams (four rounds) involved at this stage, with the clubs winning their best-of-5 series advancing into the next one.
Re-Seeding Plays a Factor, Too
With each round they hope to win, there is a high probability that the Maple Leafs will be one of the lower seeds remaining amongst the teams involved in the next set of match-ups.
In a traditional bracket format, without re-seeding, parity tends to take effect along the way with more comparable teams meeting within each proceeding series. But that’s not the case this year.
If every underdog team from the Eastern Conference loses their qualifying round, Toronto will sit in the last possible position on that side. They’d then face the highest-seeded team remaining, with each round they make it to.
It will be an uphill battle the whole way for the Maple Leafs.
More Games Than Usual
The post-season format we’ve become accustomed to includes four rounds, each being a best-of-7 series. All of which will still be included in this year’s playoffs, but with an added initial challenge for a team like Toronto.
On the other end of that spectrum, if they are forced to play every possible match in order to be victorious through each round, then they’ll be participating in 33 games these playoffs.
To contrast with the more traditional tournament structure, the least any team plays would be 16 games and the most required is 28.
So, whether it’s that they have to play their way into the 16-team playoffs, they’ll be forced to compete against the best every series, or more wins are needed to achieve the same prize, the path towards this year’s Stanley Cup is anything but smooth for the Toronto Maple Leafs.