NHL Playoffs 2020: Schedule and Latest Odds for Stanley Cup Bracket Picture

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIAugust 12, 2020

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The opening game of the first round of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs is one that will be remembered for a long time. And what better way to begin the opening round than in historic fashion?

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in five overtimes, the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup playoffs history. It was the first to go to five overtimes since a matchup between the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals.

Because this year's playoffs are being played in two bubble cities (Edmonton and Toronto), the five-overtime game impacted the schedule. That contest lasted so long that Game 1 of the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins was moved from Tuesday night to the following morning, which means there will now be five matchups on Wednesday.

After a look at the upcoming schedule and the current Stanley Cup odds, we'll break down the action from the first three matchups of the opening round of this year's playoffs.

               

Upcoming Schedule

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Wednesday, Aug. 12

Game 1: No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes at No. 4 Boston Bruins, 11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 1: No. 6 New York Islanders at No. 3 Washington Capitals, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 1: No. 7 Arizona Coyotes at No. 2 Colorado Avalanche, 5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 1: No. 8 Montreal Canadiens at No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 1: No. 5 Vancouver Canucks at No. 4 St. Louis Blues, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

             

Thursday, Aug. 13

Game 2: No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets at No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 2: No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks at No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights, 5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 2: No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes at No. 4 Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 2: No. 6 Calgary Flames at No. 3 Dallas Stars, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Complete first-round playoff schedule available at NHL.com.

        

Stanley Cup Odds

Colorado Avalanche +600 (bet $100 to win $600)

Philadelphia Flyers +600

Vegas Golden Knights +600

Tampa Bay Lightning +700

Boston Bruins +800

St. Louis Blues +1100

Washington Capitals +1300

Carolina Hurricanes +1600

Dallas Stars +1600

Calgary Flames +1900

New York Islanders +2100

Vancouver Canucks +2100

Columbus Blue Jackets +3000

Chicago Blackhawks +3200

Arizona Coyotes +3300

Montreal Canadiens +3300

Odds obtained via Vegas Insider.

              

Tampa Bay off to better start than last year

In 2019, the Lightning became the first No. 1 seed to get swept in the opening round of the playoffs, when they lost in four games to the No. 8-seeded Blue Jackets. And while it may have taken until the fifth overtime period on Tuesday, Tampa Bay finally owns a win over Columbus in the postseason.

Yanni Gourde scored for the Lightning to tie Game 1 at 2-2 only 23 seconds into the third period, and there wouldn't be another goal until Brayden Point ended it 10 minutes, 27 seconds into the fifth OT period.

It was an impressive way for Tampa Bay to bounce back after it lost its last round-robin seeding game to Philadelphia and fell to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Even though the Lightning won a game that featured just over 150 minutes of time on the ice, it only counts as one victory, and the Blue Jackets will be looking to respond in Thursday's Game 2.

"You're going to lose games, and this was just a long overtime game that we lost. It's no different," Columbus right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand said, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "We've just got to bounce back and be ready for the next game."

It's likely that Game 2 is going to be shorter than the marathon first contest, but if the play from the opening game is any indication, this could be one of the most exciting first-round series to watch.

            

Flames edge Stars to take Game 1

Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

Of the eight first-round playoff series, one that could have the best chance of an upset is Flames-Stars. And No. 6-seeded Calgary started off on a good note, beating the third-seeded Dallas 3-2 in Game 1 to jump out to an early lead.

Veteran goaltender Cam Talbot is in his first season with the Flames, and they've been able to rely on him since the start of the qualifying round.

The 33-year-old played all four games of Calgary's series win over the Winnipeg Jets, which included a shutout in Game 4. He followed that up with a strong opening performance against Dallas, tallying 24 saves and allowing only a pair of second-period goals.

Prior to this season, Calgary had lost eight of its last nine playoff series, dating back to its Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2004. But the Flames will be looking to make a surprise deep run this postseason, and they're off to a strong start.

"It feels good. You can feel the chemistry in the room and the trust between the guys," Flames defenseman TJ Brodie said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "It definitely feels different than previous years."

The Stars will be trying to bounce back in Game 2, but they need more offense to win the series. They've scored only three goals over their past three games.

              

Golden Knights open with impressive victory

John Locher/Associated Press

It's clear that the Golden Knights are going to be one of the top Stanley Cup contenders in this year's playoffs. They've gotten off to a strong start this postseason, and that continued with Game 1 of their first-round series against the Blackhawks.

After winning all three of its round-robin seeding games to secure the No. 1 seed for the first time in the franchise's brief history, Vegas beat Chicago 4-1 to take an early lead in the series. Reilly Smith scored a pair of third-period goals to secure the win, while goaltender Robin Lehner had 19 saves in a strong showing against his former team.

Vegas reached the Stanley Cup Final in its first season in 2018, then lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. It appears poised for a run much more similar to the former than the latter, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Golden Knights dominate this opening-round series.

The Blackhawks are one of the biggest underdogs in this year's playoffs, as they were a No. 12 seed in the qualifying round and pulled off an impressive 3-1 series upset against the Edmonton Oilers. It would be even more surprising to see them take down Vegas and keep their run going.