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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs to Begin on Saturday August 1st

Hockey

We can’t have one without the other. After tonight’s NBA debut, all focus will shift to Saturday’s NHL restart. How spoiled are we?

July 30, 2020
CHASE AGNELLO-DEAN/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES
CHASE AGNELLO-DEAN/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: We can’t have one without the other. After tonight’s NBA debut, all focus will shift to Saturday’s NHL restart. How spoiled are we?

How will it work?: Unlike the NBA, the NHL has decided to skip the remaining regular season games and jump right into the Stanley Cup playoffs. That said, this postseason will look a little different than normal (what even is normal anymore anyway?)

  • The league has expanded from the usual 16 playoff teams to 24, and has added in a short qualifying round to start. The bottom eight teams of each conference (based on regular season standings) will face off in best-of-five series, and the winners will advance to the official first round of playoffs.

What about the top four teams?: The top four teams from each conference have already clinched playoff spots. So to not miss out on the fun, they’ll play in a separate round robin tournament to determine their playoff seeding.

  • The first playoff round will return to the usual best-of-seven series, and when that’s over, all the pairings will be reseeded for the second round. More of a visual learner? Check out the full bracket here.

Got it. So what’s the timeframe?: The seeding/qualifying round will run until August 9th. Add a few weeks each for the first and second rounds and Conference Finals, and we could be looking at the Stanley Cup Finals being played into October...which is when the season usually starts. Wild.

And who’s going to win the Cup?: The Tampa Bay Lightning (who are looking to come back from their embarrassing first round exit last season) and the Boston Bruins (who lost in the Stanley Cup Final last year) are the heavy favorites. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals spoil their fun.

  • In the West, the defending champion St. Louis Blues could go back to back, but only if the surging Colorado Avalanche can be held off. Oh, the anticipation.