NHL Return To Play And 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Format

Malik Jackson
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The 2019-20 NHL season will start up again! Amazing news for hockey fans across the world. Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

On May 26th the NHL announced a return to play plan that includes 24 teams in a competition for the Stanley Cup. On Thursday, the NHL said that each series will be best-of-seven once all the teams get through the seeding stage of the qualifying round.

This years tournament is subject to change, thus the format will start off with a 16-team, eight-series Qualifying Round (Best-of-five), and a Seeding Round Robin for the top four seeds in their respective conferences to conclude the seeding of teams.

In each round of the playoffs, the best team to advance in each conference will face the worst team in that conference. So, the highest remaining seed will play the lowest remaining seed, the second-highest seed would play the second-lowest seed, and so forth. This is making this year a random shuffle of cards because nobody has been on-ice training for quite sometime.

During the round-robin stage, ties will be broken by regular-season points percentage. The seeding order for these top four teams will remain the same throughout the playoffs. Therefore the seeding will stay set and in order.

For the qualifying round, the higher-seeded team will be awarded home for games one, three and five. The lower-seeded team will be at home for games two and four.

During the first round, second round and conference finals round, the higher-seeds will be awarded home for Games one, two, five and seven. The lower-seeds will be awarded home ice for games three, four and six. The same format will be used for the Stanley Cup Final.

The qualifying round and round-robin will be held at two hub cities to be identified, one for the 12 participating Western Conference teams and one for the 12 Eastern Conference teams and begin at a date still to be announced.

In the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers each will have a bye and play each other once in the round-robin to determine the order of the top four seeds for the first round of the playoffs.

The four Eastern Conference Qualifying Round series will be the New York Islanders versus the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights each will have a bye and play in the round-robin to determine their seeding order.

The four Western Conference Qualifying Round series will be the Nashville Predators versus the Arizona Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks versus the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers versus the Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames versus the Winnipeg Jets.

Phase Two of the Return to Play Plan, which allows for voluntary limited workouts at team facilities, will begin Monday, June 8th.

Malik Jackson

Malik Jackson
NHL Journalist & Reporter
Washington D.C.

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