The chase for the Cup is back on.
After a four-month layoff, the ice is cooled, the teams are hot and the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs officially get underway on Aug. 11. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the NHL to get a bit creative with its restart, and because of that, hockey-starved fans get a little dose of semi-playoffs with teams jockeying for playoff position and playoff spots over a week span starting on Saturday.
The gist: The top four teams in each conference will play each other once to determine seeding in the Stanley Cup playoffs, while the remaining eight teams in each conference play qualifiers to make the dance.
Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ont. and Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta., will play host to the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with Rogers Place housing the conference finals and the Stanley Cup final. Should all go according to plan, with players staying healthy within the NHL's bubble, the season is scheduled to end no later than Oct. 4.
Here's what you need to know about the round-robin and qualifying rounds and the start of the 2020 NHL playoffs:
NHL playoff bracket 2020
The top four teams will compete in a seeding round-robin tourney:
|Aug. 2||Flyers vs. Bruins||Flyers 4, Bruins 1|
|Aug. 3||Capitals vs. Lightning||Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)|
|Aug. 5||Lightning vs. Bruins||Lightning 3, Bruins 2|
|Aug. 6||Capitals vs. Flyers||Flyers 3, Capitals 1|
|Aug. 8||Flyers vs. Lightning||Flyers 4, Lightning 1|
|Aug. 9||Bruins vs. Capitals||Capitals 2, Bruins 1|
The following are the matchups for the qualifying round, based on regular season standings/point percentage:
|Penguins (5) vs. Canadiens (12)||Canadiens win series 3-1|
|Hurricanes (6) vs. Rangers (11)||Hurricanes win series 3-0|
|Islanders (7) vs. Panthers (10)||Islanders win series 3-1|
|Maple Leafs (8) vs. Blue Jackets (9)||Blue Jackets win series 3-2|
The top four teams in the West face each other once:
|Aug. 2||Blues vs. Avalanche||Avalanche 2, Blues 1|
|Aug. 3||Stars vs. Golden Knights||Golden Knights 5, Stars 3|
|Aug. 5.||Avalanche vs. Stars||Avalanche 4, Stars 0|
|Aug. 6||Golden Knights vs. Blues||Golden Knights 6, Blues 4|
|Aug. 8||Golden Knights vs. Avalanche||Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT)|
|Aug. 9||Stars vs. Blues||Stars 2, Blues 1 (SO)|
Based on regular-season standings, the following are the matchups for the qualifying round in the West:
|Oilers (5) vs. Blackhawks (12)||Blackhawks win series 3-1|
|Predators (6) vs. Coyotes (11)||Coyotes win series 3-1|
|Canucks (7) vs. Wild (10)||Canucks win series 3-1|
|Flames (8) vs. Jets (9)||Flames win series 3-1|
NHL playoff projections
Here's what the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs would look like if the qualifying rounds ended today (updated Aug. 9):
— Flyers (1) vs. Canadiens (8)
— Lightning (2) vs. Blue Jackets (7)
— Capitals (3) vs. Islanders (6)
— Bruins (4) vs. Hurricanes (5)
— Golden Knights (1) vs. Blackhawks (8)
— Avalanche (2) vs. Coyotes (7)
— Stars (3) vs. Flames (6)
— Blues (4) vs. Canucks (5)
When do the NHL playoffs start in 2020?
The 2020 Stanley Cup playoff qualifiers get underway on Saturday, Aug. 1. The Rangers and Hurricanes kick off the qualifying round with a Saturday matinee matchup in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ont. The last games in both the qualifying and round-robin rounds are scheduled take place on Sunday, Aug. 9.
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs officially get underway on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Teams will be re-seeded after the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
How do the NHL playoffs work?
Prior to the start of the official Stanley Cup playoffs on Aug. 11, there are a few bells and whistles that are going to determine qualification and seeding in both conferences. Here's how that will work:
- The top four teams in each conference play round-robin style to determine seeding for the top spots in the playoffs. Each team will play each other once, amounting in six games between Aug 2. and Aug. 9. The games will be played under regular season overtime and shootout rules.
- The remaining eight teams in each conference will play in a best-of-five series to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Seeding is based on regular-season standings. These games are played under playoff overtime rules (golden goal).
- After the qualifying rounds and round-robin play is completed, teams advance to the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. The highest seeds will play the lowest seeds, per usual, with re-seeding after both the first and second rounds.
- Every series from the first round to the last horn of the Stanley Cup Final are seven games, per usual, with the NHL's two hub cities hosting the first two rounds. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held in Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta.
NHL standings 2020
The Sabres, Devils, Senators and Red Wings all missed the playoffs.
The Ducks, Kings and Sharks all miss out on the chase for the Cup.