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Tweetmail: How Do the Playoffs Work This Season?

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail presented by Segra. This is a regular feature on in which I answer your Twitter questions, which are mostly about the Carolina Hurricanes, but sometimes also about travel or television or life. It's a mailbag of tweets. It's Tweetmail. Maybe you learn a little something, and maybe we have some fun, too.

Let's get to it.

Is it correct that the Canes will play in their own division for the first two rounds? What division will the Canes be playing in the third round? - @stewartfan88

I'm super glad you asked this question, Joan, because I've seen it quite a bit this week, and it's the perfect time for a playoff format refresher.

The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played within each division. In the First Round, each division's first-place team faces the fourth-place team and the second-place team faces the third-place team. In the Second Round, the winners of those two series square off within each division.

The third round is typically the Conference Final round, but with temporary realignment, there are no discernible Eastern and Western Conferences, so it's not predetermined that the team to advance out of the Central will face the team to advance out of the West, for instance. Instead, the remaining four teams will be seeded by regular-season record, and again, the first seed will play the fourth seed, and the second seed will play the third seed. The winners of those two series will then square off in the Stanley Cup Final.

This video from the NHL presents the information with a slicker visual.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: A reminder that the path to the #StanleyCup will look a little different this season. #NHLStats

Though the Canes finished in third in the league standings, only one of Colorado (who won the Presidents' Trophy) or Vegas (who finished as the second-best team in the league) can advance out of the West Division to the semifinals, so the Canes are guaranteed to have home ice for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs.

I like reading playoff predictions, so I want to know yours regarding the Central for just the First Round. My picks are Canes in 5 and Panthers in 7. - @Tom_Hannigan237

We're in agreement on Canes in 5, but I'm going Lightning in 6 over the Panthers. I don't think the defending champs are getting bounced in round one (though the Canes from two seasons ago would disagree with me there).

Don't you think if Jaccob Slavin can't go, it will be a struggle for the Canes defensively? - @william83699289

It would certainly be a concern if the Canes were without Jaccob Slavin for the start of the playoffs. He is, of course, one of the best defensemen in the NHL, the Canes leader in time on ice and a solid candidate for the Lady Byng. He missed the final game of the season with a lower-body injury and hasn't practiced with the team since, but head coach Rod Brind'Amour remains hopeful he'll be in the Game 1 lineup.

Perhaps more of a concern now is the fact that Brett Pesce is absent from practice, as well. Being down one elite defenseman would be a manageable issue, at least for a game or two, but being down two becomes more of a concern.

Even still, the Canes are expecting to have a full complement of players available for Game 1. The benefit of the puck not dropping until Monday? Plenty of time to get healthy before then.

Have the Canes reached 85% fully vaccinated (players/traveling party, etc.), and which lunch place will you be enjoying next weekend in Nashville? - @HMof2

The Canes' traveling party has reached the 85% fully vaccinated threshold, which is indeed great news.

(Don't tell Bill Burniston about this next part …)

Hmmm, lunch in Nashville. Some good options. There's a Hattie B's on Broadway now, right across the street from Bridgestone Arena! It's clearly gone full touristy, but it's still really good hot chicken, and the pimento mac-n-cheese is wonderful. Plus, the proximity of that new location makes delivery more of a breeze when protocol stipulates. There's Edley's Bar-B-Que. I know, I know, but it's really good. Trust me. Biscuit Love is a popular option in The Gulch. Finally, Pinewood Social is a new favorite. No grilled chicken sandwich should be that delicious, but they found a way.

If there are injuries that take out the main roster and taxi squad, would the Canes be allowed to call in players from the Chicago Wolves? - @lorndarken

Now that the regular season is over and typical roster and salary cap limits don't apply, taxi squads have been dissolved.

The Chicago Wolves, who are Central Division champions of the AHL, wrap up their season this weekend, at which point the Canes will recall a number of players to the big club to fill out their "Black Aces," as they're colloquially known for the playoffs. That should cover the team in terms of whatever injuries pop up during what will hopefully be a deep playoff run.

$5 Storm Brew back for playoffs? - @dsgill87

You know it! Crispy & crushable, and just $5 for a 16 oz. can. Can't beat it! 🍻

Join me again soon for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a Nashville food recommendation, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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