The NHL’s 24-team playoff begins Saturday. But there could be questions about how the 2020 NHL playoffs will work. We’re here with answers, schedules and more.
Qualifiers begin August 1. See a full schedule here and below.
For more on how they settled on everything, including the CBA and Return to Play agreement, click here.
How the 24-team playoff format works
The NHL shared the “competitive format” for the 24-team playoff setup for how the 2020 NHL playoffs will work. The “round robin” pertains to the seeding for the top four teams in each conference. The “qualifying round” has previously been referred to as a “play-in” round. Toronto will host the Eastern Conference teams at Scotiabank Arena, while Edmonton will have the Western Conference teams at Rogers Place.
In each Conference, teams seeded by points percentage.
• Round Robin: The top 4 teams play for First Round seeding (regular-season overtime rules in effect)
• Qualifying Round: The remaining 8 teams play best-of-5 series to advance to the First Round (playoff overtime rules in effect)
• First Round and Second Round: Format (seeding vs. bracket) and series lengths will be best-of-seven.
• Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final: Best-of-7 series will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
* The winners from the Qualifying Round play the top 4 seeds in the First Round. Individual First Round series matchups remain to be determined.
Stanley Cup playoffs schedule
EASTERN CONFERENCE (Scotiabank Arena)
Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO) (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning 3, Bruins 2 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flyers 3, Capitals 1 (recap)
Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Capitals 2, Bruins 1 (recap)
First Round matchups
• Flyers vs. Canadiens
• Capitals vs. Islanders
• Bruins vs. Hurricanes
• Lightning will play the winner of Toronto/Columbus series.
(5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens (MTL won series 3-1)
(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers (CAR won series 3-0)
(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers (NYI won series 3-1)
(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (Series tied 2-2)
Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT) (recap)
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT) (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
WESTERN CONFERENCE (Rogers Place)
Vegas Golden Knights (3-0-0, 6 points)
Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0, 4 points)
Dallas Stars (1-2-0, 2 points)
St. Louis Blues (0-2-1, 1 point)
Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 4, Stars 3 (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights 6, Blues 4 (recap)
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT) (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars 2, Blues 1 (SO) (recap)
First Round matchups
• Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks
• Avalanche vs. Coyotes
• Stars vs. Flames
• Blues vs. Canucks
(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks (CHI won series 3-1)
(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes (ARZ won series 3-1)
(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild (VAN won series 3-1)
(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets (CGY won series 3-1)
Key Dates for 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL Free Agency, Draft
So, we just covered how the 2020 NHL playoffs will work and the “where” for the NHL’s playoff return to award a 2020 Stanley Cup. Let’s cover the “when.”
Aug 10: Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery to determine No. 1 overall pick
Aug 11: First Round begins
Aug 25: Second Round begins
Sept. 8: Conference Finals begin
Sept. 22: Stanley Cup Final begins
Oct 4: Last possible date for Stanley Cup to be awarded
Oct. 9-10: 2020 NHL Draft (must follow end of Cup Final and take place before free agency)
Mid-Oct.: free agent period opens
Nov. 17: Training camps open for 2020-21 season
Dec. 1: 2020-21 NHL season begins