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NHL Playoff Bracket 2020: Round-by-Round Schedule, Dates and Guide

Jake RillSenior Writer IAugust 23, 2020

Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) moves the puck down the ice during an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway, and it began with a scoring frenzy. The Dallas Stars jumped out to an early series lead over the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-3 win in Saturday's Game 1.

In their final game of the first round, the Stars scored seven goals in a Game 6 win over the Calgary Flames, while the Avalanche scored seven goals in both Game 4 and Game 5 of their series against the Arizona Coyotes. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that there was a lot of offense to begin this series between Central Division rivals.

Two more conference semifinal series will get underway Sunday. Depending on how long they last, it's possible that the round won't conclude until Sept. 3, which is the last possible date for Game 7 matchups.

When this year's playoffs started August 1, the conference finals were expected to begin Sept. 8 and the Stanley Cup Final was penciled in for a Sept. 22 start. However, the first round concluded with no series going a full seven games, allowing the second round to start earlier, so there's a chance those series could take place sooner than scheduled.

                   

2nd-Round Series Schedule

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New York Islanders

Game 1: Monday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 2: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 12 p.m. ET, NBC
Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, Aug. 31
Game 6 (if necessary): Wednesday, Sept. 2
Game 7 (if necessary): Thursday, Sept. 3

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins

Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 23, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Friday, Aug. 28, 7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
Game 5 (if necessary): Sunday, Aug. 30
Game 6 (if necessary): Tuesday, Sept. 1
Game 7 (if necessary): Wednesday, Sept. 2

                  

Western Conference

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 23, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 27, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, Aug. 31
Game 6 (if necessary): Tuesday, Sept. 1
Game 7 (if necessary): Thursday, Sept. 3

          

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars

Game 1: Dallas won 5-3
Game 2: Monday, Aug. 24, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Friday, Aug. 28, 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 5: Sunday, Aug. 30
Game 6: Monday, Aug. 31
Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 2

                  

Sunday Preview

Have Bruins Proved They're Back on Track?

If the 2019-20 season hadn't been suspended in mid-March, there's a strong chance that the Boston Bruins would have secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They had a sizable advantage over the rest of the teams and appeared to be cruising to clinching that spot.

However, Boston didn't fare well when the season resumed, going 0-3 in round-robin seeding play and consequently falling to the No. 4 seed. That gave the Bruins a tough first-round matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes, whom they faced in last year's Eastern Conference Final.

But just like in 2019, Boston beat Carolina in convincing fashion, as it rolled to a five-game series win. After losing four of its first five games this postseason, the Bruins won three straight to eliminate the Hurricanes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning should be an even greater challenge for the Bruins. When the two teams faced in round-robin play, Tampa Bay won 3-2, which helped it secure the East's No. 2 seed.

"This is what makes the Cup worth it, because you've got to play teams like Tampa," Bruins left winger Brad Marchand said, according to Field Level Media (h/t ESPN). "They have a bit of a different make-up now. They compete a lot harder. They are a lot more physical and, obviously, they have a ton of talent. They're very fast, have a great goalie. They have everything."

In the first round, the Lightning also won their series in five games, getting revenge against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who swept them in the opening round in 2019.

The last time that Boston and Tampa Bay met in a postseason series, it was during the second round in 2018. The Lightning won that in five games, but if the Bruins have returned to the level they were playing at during the regular season, they could end up on top this time. Getting off to a strong start in Sunday's Game 1 is crucial for both teams.

                     

Can Canucks Pull Off Another Huge Upset?

In the first round, the Vancouver Canucks knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, who had the most regular-season points in the Western Conference but fell to the No. 4 seed by going 0-3 during their round-robin seeding games. After the series was tied through four games, Vancouver won Games 5 and 6 to advance.

Now, the Canucks have to take on the Vegas Golden Knights, who have been the hottest team in the NHL this postseason. Vegas won all three of its round-robin seeding games to earn the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history. Then the Golden Knights made quick work of the Chicago Blackhawks, defeating them in five games.

"Obviously, they're the No. 1 ranked team on this side, so we'll have our hands full, but we'll be ready to go," Vancouver coach Travis Green said, according to Field Level Media (h/t ESPN).

Despite only being in their third season, the Golden Knights have already proved that they are a strong playoff team, as they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, their inaugural season, and have never missed the postseason. They have also dominated the Canucks in head-to-head matchups, going 8-0-2 against them in regular-season play.

This will be the first time Vegas is playing Vancouver in the playoffs, though. And the Canucks should be feeling confident after knocking off the Blues in impressive fashion in the opening round.

One key to the series could be how well Vancouver's defense can limit Vegas' attack. The Canucks prevented the Blues from having an offensive outburst, holding them to a maximum of three goals in all six games. However, the Golden Knights have scored four or more goals in six of their first eight postseason games, so they could be much more difficult to contain.

If Vancouver can win Game 1, that early advantage could go a long way toward helping the Canucks upset Vegas and prevent the West's No. 1 seed from getting on a roll.

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