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Last Updated: August 18, 2020

The 2020 National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

Introduction

As all major American professional sports leagues were forced to do so the National Hockey League suspended play last March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Well fortunately for the league, the players, the coaches, the team personnel, and the fans of pro hockey the 2019 – 2020 NHL season resumed play once again on Saturday, August 1st, 2020.

The NHL’s return to play format involved a 24 team tournament where the 12 teams from the Eastern Conference with the best record played in Toronto, and the 12 teams with the best record in the Western Conference played in Edmonton. All the games are to be played in hockey arenas without fans present for obvious reasons. The qualifying round of the 2019 – 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs were played over first 9 days of August.

The qualifying round consisted of the 4 teams with the best record in the Eastern Conference as well as the 4 teams with the best record in the Western Conference being exempt from having to play a qualifying series to make the traditional 16 team format of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Seeds 5 through seeds 12 in each respective conference played a best of 5 series in the qualifying round with the winners of those series moving on to the traditional 16 team format of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs as well.

Now that qualifying round of the 2019 – 2020 NHL postseason has been finalized, the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs is set to begin on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020. Below is a preview of all 8 match ups that includes how the teams got there as well as their upcoming game schedules for the first round.

# 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. # 12 Montreal Canadians (Eastern Conference)

Although the Philadelphia Flyers were exempt from having to win a series in the qualifying round of the 2019 – 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, they earned the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference by going 3 – 0 – 0 in the round robin. The Montreal Canadians defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in 4 games to get in. This was a major upset, but the Pittsburgh Penguins were heavily injured in their defense.

  • Game 1: Aug. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 14, 3 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 16, 8 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 18, 3 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 19, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 21, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 23, TBD

# 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. # 9 Columbus Blue Jackets (Eastern Conference)

The Tampa Bay Lightning secured the number 2 spot in the Eastern Conference by going 2 – 1 – 0 in the round robin of the qualifying round. The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the favored 8 seed in the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was a hard fought best of 5 series that included multiple overtime games. Despite the Toronto Maple Leafs playing in their home stadium they were upset by the feisty Columbus Blue Jackets.

  • Game 1: Aug. 11, 3 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 13, 3 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 17, 3 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 19, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 21, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 22, TBD

# 3 Washington Capitals vs. # 7 New York Islanders (Eastern Conference)

The Washington Capitals went 1 – 1 – 1 in their round robin putting them at the number 3 seed. The New York Islanders took their qualifying round series in 4 games by defeating the Florida Panthers. Both the New York Islanders and the Florida Panthers were struggling prior to 2019 – 2020 NHL season being suspended in March, but the New York Islanders bounced back much better in the season restart.

  • Game 1: Aug. 12, 3 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 14, 8 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 16, 12 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 18, 8 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 20, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 22, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 23, TBD

# 4 Boston Bruins vs. # 6 Carolina Hurricanes (Eastern Conference)

During the qualifying round the Boston Bruins had the worst round robin out of all the Eastern Conference teams by finishing with a record of 0 – 3 – 0. The Carolina Hurricanes earned their place in the first round of the postseason by beating the New York Rangers easily. The Carolina Hurricanes swept the New York Rangers in the series in 3 games in order to advance.

  • Game 1: Aug. 11, 8 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 13, 8 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 15, 12 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 17, 8 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 19, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 20, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 23, TBD

# 1 Las Vegas Golden Knights vs. # 12 Chicago Blackhawks (Western Conference)

The Las Vegas Golden Knights had the best showing in the Western Conference round robin in the qualifying round of the 2019 – 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. They won the number 1 seed by posting a record of 3 – 0 – 0. The Chicago Blackhawks upset the heavily favored Edmonton Oilers in 4 games. The Chicago Blackhawks simply outplayed the Edmonton Oilers who were playing on their home ice.

  • Game 1: Aug. 11, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 13, 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 15, 8 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 18, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 20, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 22, TBD

# 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. # 11 Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference)

The Colorado Avalanche went 2 – 0 – 1 in the qualifiers in order to establish their number 2 seed. Whereas the Arizona Coyotes surprised the hockey world by defeating the 6 seed Nashville Predators. The Arizona Coyotes pulled off their series by winning in overtime in game 4 of the best of 5 match.

  • Game 1: Aug. 12, 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 14, 2 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 15, 3 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 17, 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 19, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 21, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 23, TBD

# 3 Dallas Star vs. # 8 Calgary Flames (Western Conference)

The Dallas Stars put themselves in the 3 seed by going 1 – 2 – 0 in the round robin tournament. The one game they did win was done so in a shoot out. The Calgary Flames put the hurt on the Winnipeg Jets in order for them to advance to the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Calgary Flames won that series 3 games to 1 against the Winnipeg Jets.

  • Game 1: Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 13, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 14, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 16, 2 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 18, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 20, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 22, TBD

# 4 St. Louis Blues vs. # 7 Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference)

The defending Stanley Cup champions in the St. Louis Blues had a poor first three games of the postseason by putting up a record of 0 – 2 – 1 in their round robin which results in the St. Louis Blues dropping to the 4 seed. The Vancouver Canucks took care of business against the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round. The Canucks won that series in 4 games, but now they have to face the heavily favored Blues in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

  • Game 1: Aug. 12, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 2: Aug. 14, 6:30 p.m.
  • Game 3: Aug. 16, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 4: Aug. 17, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 5: Aug. 19, TBD
  • Game 6: Aug. 21, TBD
  • Game 7: Aug. 23, TBD

Sources:

“2020 NHL Playoffs Central: Bracket, schedule, scores, highlights, analysis”, espn.com, August 10, 2020.


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