How 2020 NHL playoffs will work: Format, seeding, locations, more for Stanley Cup playoffs

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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.

Competitive Format

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.

RELATED: Final standings, draft lottery results

Stanley Cup playoffs schedule

EXHIBITION GAMES ON NBCSN

Tuesday, July 28
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia  – 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN

Wednesday, July 29
Carolina vs. Washington – 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Chicago vs. St. Louis – 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders – 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN

EASTERN CONFERENCE (Scotiabank Arena)

Sunday, Aug. 2Flyers vs. Bruins, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
Monday, Aug. 3
Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5
Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6
Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9
Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens

Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Monday, Aug. 3: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers

Saturday, Aug. 1: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 3: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Hurricanes vs. Rangers*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Rangers vs. Hurricanes*

(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers

Saturday, Aug. 1: Panthers vs. Islanders, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Islanders vs. Panthers, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers*
Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, TBD
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*, TBD

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Rogers Place)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 3: Stars vs. Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks

Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
Monday, Aug. 3: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes

Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2 p.m. ET – USA Network
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Predators vs. Coyotes, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*, TBD

(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild

Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET – USA Network
Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild, TBD
Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets

Saturday, Aug. 1: Jets vs. Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 3: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames vs. Jets, 4:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD

* – if necessary

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.”

July 13: Training camps open (Phase 3) and 5 p.m. ET deadline for players to opt out
July 26: Teams report to their hub city
July 28-30: Exhibition games
Aug 1: Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin (Phase 4)
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

PHT Morning Skate: Brad Marchand and the new breed of NHL pests

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Do you want details on what it’s like to cover a game at an empty NHL arena? As in, a how even your parking spot is different-level of detail? Jason Gregor has you covered in detailing his experience during an Oilers “road” game in Edmonton. [Oilers Nation]

• Speaking of minute details, what about pucks that end up making seat covers look worse during those empty-arena games? Why, you have to clean them up with … uh, pool skimmers, of course. [NHL.com]

• “We’re all pretty gross. We’re children.” Former MLB player Huston Street told ESPN as much in this pretty gross story about body fluids during games. It’s good stuff … just maybe read up on the snot rockets and whatnot after breakfast/brunch. [ESPN]

• Sure, these aren’t typical circumstances for assessing players, for an expansion draft or otherwise. But Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis laid out what he’ll be scouting for during the NHL Return to Play nonetheless. [Seattle Times]

• Looking at Brad Marchand, Matthew Tkachuk, and other types of the new breed of pests. These pests don’t just annoy you with their antics; they also can aggravate you by beating you with their considerable skill. [Sports Illustrated]

William Nylander silenced at least some of his critics by authoring a strong 2019-20 season for the Maple Leafs. Of course, some will still have doubts until he delivers in the postseason. So, can Nylander pull that off? [The Hockey News]

• Here’s some good stuff on Vladimir Tarasenko getting back to speed as the Blues pick up the pace during the NHL Return to Play. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

• Can the Predators win their first Stanley Cup? To do so, they’ll have to answer a number of questions, including who they want to start in net. [A to Z Nashville]

• Considering how much better Ilya Samsonov was at times this season, it’s a bummer that he’s not an option behind (or in front of?) Braden Holtby. Credit the Capitals for lining up some other options, though, and it sounds like Vitek Vanecek earned the No. 2 gig over Pheonix Copley. [NBC Sports Washington]

• Back during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was pretty stunning to see the Flames fall apart against the Avalanche. Sean Monahan said “it’s still in my head all the time.” [Calgary Herald]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Mike Babcock joins Vermont coaching staff as volunteer advisor

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Mike Babcock has a new job and he’s heading to the college hockey world.

The University of Vermont men’s team announced that Babcock will join as a volunteer advisor to head coach Todd Woodcroft.

“Mike and I have been connected for over 15 years and our network goes back even further to our McGill University experience,” Woodcroft said. “He is a premier coach across any athletic platform and as a coaching staff we are very fortunate to be able to draw from his experiences. Mike’s knowledge, his network and above all else, the modern lens he uses to look at the game of hockey will help accelerate the progression of our entire program.”

Woodcroft was Canada’s video coach at the 2004 World Championship where Babcock was head coach.

Babcock, who has coached 1,301 NHL games with three teams, was last behind a bench with the Maple Leafs before being fired in November. His trophy case includes a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals, among other titles.

Weeks after his dismissal, allegations of mental abuse were levied against Babcock regarding an incident with Mitch Marner when he was a rookie. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said the actions were not “appropriate or acceptable.” The head coach would respond telling Sportsnet, “I was trying to focus on work ethic with Mitch — focusing on role models — ended up not being a good idea. I apologized at (the) time.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Seattle Kraken blueprint; Peter Chiarelli, Coyotes GM?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

NHL Bubble life, lineup notes

• “Safe and seamless” is the NHL’s goal in running the bubble. Judging by this detailed report from Nick Cotsonika, it sounds like the league is off to a strong start. [NHL.com]

• Could playing in the Toronto bubble actually benefit the mature, experienced Bruins? You could make that argument. [NBC Sports Boston]

• During a Monday Zoom call, Rod Brind’Amour covered a bunch of Hurricanes topics. While Dougie Hamilton was already covered, Brind’Amour also touched on distractions in the bubble, best-of-five series, and more. [Canes Country]

• As intriguing as it was, the Stars line of Tyler Seguin with Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz didn’t last. Stars coach Rick Bowness explained that the group wasn’t getting Seguin the puck often enough. That … does honestly sound like a significant issue. [Dallas Morning News]

• The NHL released its full list of King Clancy Award finalists. They also shared the news via this handy graphic:

Peter Chiarelli, Coyotes GM? And other coaching/front office links

• Jack Han took another look at how “NHL 20” can be used as a teaching tool for hockey players. [The Hockey Tactics Newsletter]

• OK, so this article is back from May. Considering the lack of hockey since the pandemic pause, it seems timely enough after the Coyotes and John Chayka went through a bitter divorce. [J Fresh]

In case you wondered, “The Rock” is a huge human. P.K. Subban provided scale for that:

View this post on Instagram

Today, I became a man. 📹: @lindseyvonn

A post shared by P.K. Subban (@subbanator) on

• Whether you consider Chayka an “analytics GM” or not, his Coyotes run wasn’t particularly successful. Still, perhaps it could have been worse. Like, say, (gulp) having Peter Chiarelli as GM? Although, maybe Chiarelli would leave the Coyotes before he repeatedly trades away All-Star talent for mediocre returns? It all seems kind of unthinkable. [Oilers Nation]

• Travis Yost looks at how the Seattle Kraken can use the Vegas Golden Knights as a blueprint for NHL expansion success. Among the points Yost brings up is piling up assets. When you account for the potential headaches stemming from a flat salary cap, I wonder if the Kraken can exploit such opportunities even more than the Golden Knights? [TSN]

• For whatever reason, it sounds like the Golden Knights weren’t honest during the process of moving on from goalie coach Dave Prior. At least, that’s what Prior claims. [Sin Bin Vegas]

• Would you partake in the Canucks’ “penalty box patio?” [Canucks]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Seattle Kraken announced as NHL expansion team name; jersey design released

Seattle Kraken
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Introducing the Seattle Kraken, the expansion franchise that will push the NHL to 32 teams. The Seattle Kraken also shared their logo and team colors on Thursday.

Seattle Kraken is the name for NHL expansion team; Check out logo, jerseys

After COVID-19 prompted a delay or two, we now know that the Seattle NHL expansion team will be known as the Kraken.

Take a look at the three logos:

Seattle Kraken logo, color scheme
via the team

Early responses appear positive for this look at their sweaters:

Seattle Kraken jersey sweater uniform team name
via Seattle Kraken/adidas

If all goes to plan, the Seattle Kraken will debut during the 2021-22 NHL season. Logically enough, the Kraken will play in the Pacific Division. Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes will realign to the Central Division.

Climate Pledge Arena will serve as the home arena. (Yes, that’s the renovated and renamed Key Arena.)

With the salary cap expected to be flat (or close to flat), the Kraken figure to mop up at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. The NHL will use the same expansion draft rules as the Vegas Golden Knights did.

Naturally, this expansion club will face a significant challenge in trying to parallel the smash success of the Golden Knights. It would probably be wiser to temper expectations to somewhere between the instant success of the Golden Knights and the lengthy struggles of past NHL expansion teams.

(But, again, financial realities open up plenty of possible opportunities for this upcoming team. Their analytics-friendly perception only makes such hypothetical situations more fun to imagine.)

Hockey fans must feel a sweet release in learning the team name is the Kraken.

So, what do you think? Is there a different name that would make more sense to you?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.