NHL Announces Schedule for 2020 Playoff Qualifiers, Exhibition Games

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2020

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 27: Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2019 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL's 2019-20 season will get back underway with five Stanley Cup qualifiers Aug. 1.  

The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will contest the first puck drop since March 11 at 12 p.m. ET.

The 16 teams taking part in the qualifiers will all have one exhibition game apiece before the fight for the eight open postseason berths begins.

The NHL suspended the season on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than picking things back up in the regular season, it moved straight ahead to a modified playoff tournament.

The top 12 teams in terms of points from each conference earned the right to continue playing at one of two sites in Canada (Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta).

The top four teams in the East and West have already moved on and will stage a round-robin tournament to finalize the seeding. The remaining eight teams from the respective conferences will compete in best-of-five series to advance.

             

East

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  • No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens
  • No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers
  • No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers
  • No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets

             

West

  • No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks
  • No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes
  • No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild
  • No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets

          

Once the round-robin tournament and qualifying series are over, a more traditional 16-team playoff bracket will commence. The NHL will, however, reseed after every round, which was how the postseason unfolded every year before the realignment in 2013-14.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (+550; wager $100 to win $550) are the Stanley Cup favorites at Caesars Palace. They are followed by the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights at +600. The St. Louis Blues are +900 to repeat last year's title triumph.

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