NHL Playoff Bracket 2020: Stanley Cup Schedule, Postseason Tree and Standings

Jake RillSenior Writer IAugust 21, 2020

New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) skates with the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

There haven't been many upsets in the opening round of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Six of the eight first-round series are now over, and in five of them, the higher-seeded team was victorious. The lone exception? The No. 6-seeded New York Islanders.

On Thursday night, the Islanders completed their dominant showing over the No. 3-seeded Washington Capitals, notching a 4-0 victory in Game 5 to win the series 4-1. New York scored at least three goals in three of its four wins in the series, while allowing only eight total goals.

But there could still be two more upsets in the next few days. The No. 5-seeded Vancouver Canucks hold a 3-2 lead over the No. 4-seeded St. Louis Blues, while the No. 8-seeded Montreal Canadiens trail the No. 1-seeded Philadelphia Flyers 3-2.

Here's a breakdown of the current playoff picture, along with the schedule for the remainder of the first round and a look ahead to the potential matchups for the second round.


First-Round Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers lead No. 8 Montreal Canadiens 3-2

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning defeated No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1

No. 6 New York Islanders defeated No. 3 Washington Capitals 4-1

No. 4 Boston Bruins defeated No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes 4-1


Western Conference

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights defeated No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks 4-1

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche defeated No. 7 Arizona Coyotes 4-1

No. 3 Dallas Stars defeated No. 6 Calgary Flames 4-2

No. 5 Vancouver Canucks lead No. 4 St. Louis Blues 3-2


Remaining First-Round Schedule

Friday, Aug. 21

Game 6: No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers at No. 8 Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

Game 6: No. 4 St. Louis Blues at No. 5 Vancouver Canucks, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network


Sunday, Aug. 23

Game 7: No. 8 Montreal Canadiens at No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers (if necessary)

Game 7: No. 5 Vancouver Canucks at No. 4 St. Louis Blues (if necessary)


Second-Round Breakdown

There's only one series that's been locked in for the second round of the playoffs. In the Western Conference, the No. 2-seeded Avalanche will be taking on the No. 3-seeded Stars with a berth in the conference finals on the line.

Colorado had only one setback in its first-round series against Arizona, when it lost Game 3 4-2. But the Avalanche responded in resounding fashion, outscoring the Coyotes 14-2 in their Games 4 and 5 victories.

Dallas trailed 2-1 in its opening-round series against Calgary, but it then reeled off three straight victories, using a 7-3 victory in Game 6 to advance.

This will be the fifth time that the Avalanche and Stars are meeting in the postseason, and they split their first four playoff series. Dallas won in seven games in the Western Conference finals in both 1999 and 2000, while Colorado was victorious in first-round series in 2004 and 2006.

"Now getting into the final eight ... it's just going to come down to execution and who can elevate their game," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said, according to NHL.com's David Satriano. "Every team has a chance to win it in this thing, maybe this year more than any other year."

The top-seeded Golden Knights will take on whichever team wins the Blues-Canucks series, and it will be the first time they've faced either of them in the postseason in their three-year history. Although St. Louis is the defending Stanley Cup champion, it's currently in some trouble as it will need back-to-back wins over Vancouver to avoid an upset elimination.

In the Eastern Conference, both second-round series are dependent on the result of the Flyers-Canadiens series. While Philadelphia is holding a 3-2 lead and will likely go on to win, Montreal has been an underdog all postseason and would pull off an upset with two consecutive victories.

If the Canadiens come back to win, they would face the Lightning in the second round, which would leave the Bruins and Islanders to play each other. But if the Flyers win, they'd take on the Islanders, and the Lightning and Bruins would go head-to-head.

Tampa Bay is in the second round a year after it was the first No. 1 seed in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to be swept by a No. 8 seed, as it lost in four games to Columbus. This year, the Lightning avenged that loss by defeating the Blue Jackets in five games in the opening round.

"We had 422 days to think about it, but who's counting?" Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said, according to The Athletic's Joe Smith. "It's funny how hockey gods work. To go through what we did last year, and have to get second-guessed on a lot of things we did and go through the season, the pause and everything to happen and end up during reseeding to play the same team. It's easy to say you wanted them now, but it was good to get them and good to get this result."

It's possible all four second-round matchups will be set Friday if the Flyers and Canucks win their respective Game 6 matchups. But even if that doesn't happen, everything will be known by the end of the day Sunday, which is when both potential Game 7 contests would take place.

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is scheduled to begin Tuesday.