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When do the NHL playoffs begin? Important dates, schedule and more to know for the return of hockey in 2020

After months of chaos, confusion and commotion in the hockey world, fans have an answer to the all-important question: yes, there will be a 2020 Stanley Cup champion.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced in May that the league is moving forward with a 24-team playoff format in which 12 teams from each conference would participate in an adjusted postseason. There were a few kinks to work out, including an extension to a collective bargaining agreement, but eventually, on Friday, July 10, both the league and NHLPA confirmed plans for the season to move forward with the NHL Return Play Plan.

This is where NHL hockey resumes and the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

When do the NHL playoffs start in 2020?

  • Qualifications and round-robins: Saturday, August 1
  • First round: August 11
  • Second round: August 25 (tentative)
  • Final conference: September 8 (tentative)
  • Stanley Cup Final: September 22 (preliminary)

The first games of the playoffs, with the best-of-five qualifying series, are scheduled for August 1, with Flames vs. Jets, Blackhawks vs. Oilers, Panthers vs. Islanders, Rangers vs. Hurricanes and Canadiens vs. Penguins.

The round-robin section of the postseason begins on August 2 with a matchup between the Flyers and Bruins, less than three weeks after the opening of training camps on July 13.

Games are played in two Canadian hub cities: Toronto for Eastern Conference games and Edmonton for Western Conference games. The conference finals and the Stanley Cup final take place in Edmonton.

The Stanley Cup final starts on September 22 and will be completed by October 4.

MORE: Connor McDavid endorses playoff format, discusses role in NHL’s return to play

How do the Stanley Cup playoffs work?

Before the playoffs officially begin, there will be a “qualifying round” in each conference. The top four seeds in each conference will get a goal by this round, leaving the fifth through 12th seeds in each conference to brave the remaining spots in the playoff bracket. These series are the best-of-five games, with overtime rules for playoffs in effect. The winners advance to the top four seeds in the next round.

While that is going on, the top four seeds play a round-robin tournament to determine their placement for the first round of the playoffs. If these games are working overtime, they will be played according to the regular overtime rules. If there is a tie in points at the end of the round robin, regular season points are used as a tiebreaker.

After the playoff bracket is set, each playoff series is a best-of-seven, from the first round to the Stanley Cup final.

NHL playoff schedule

(All times east)

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Saturday, August 1

Eastern Conference (all games in Toronto)
Best-of-five series

  • New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 1, afternoon, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS
  • Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders, Game 1, 4:00 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS
  • Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 1, 8pm, NBC, fuboTV, CBC, SN, TVAS

Western Conference (all games in Edmonton)
Best-of-five series

  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, Game 1, 3pm, NBC, fuboTV, SN
  • Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames, Game 1, 10:30 PM, NBCSN, fuboTVCBC, SN

Sunday August 2

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Game 1, 8pm, NHLN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS

Round-robin

  • Philadelphia flyers vs. Boston Bruins, 3 p.m., NBC, fuboTV, TVAS

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators, Game 1, 2:00 PM, USA, fuboTV, SN1
  • Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 1, 10:30 AM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN

Round-robin

  • Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche, 6:30 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN360, TVAS2

Monday, August 3

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 2, noon, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, SN360, TVAS
  • Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 2, 8:00 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS

Round-robin

  • Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 4:00 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN360, TVAS

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames, Game 2, 2:30 PM, NHLN, fuboTV, SN
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, Game 2, 10:30 AM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN

Round-robin

  • Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights, 6:30 PM, NHLN, fuboTV, SN1

Tuesday, August 4

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders, Game 2, noon, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS
  • Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Game 2, 4 p.m., NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers, Game 3, 8:00 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN360, TVAS

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators, Game 2, 12:30 PM, NHLN, fuboTV, SN360, SN1
  • Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets, Game 3, 6:45 PM, NHLN, fuboTV, SN
  • Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 2, 10:45 am, USA, fuboTV, SN

Wednesday, August 5

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers, Game 3, noon, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS
  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens, Game 3, 8pm, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS

Round-robin

  • Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins, 4 p.m., NBCSN, fuboTV, SN, TVAS

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes, Game 3, 12:30 p.m. NHLN, fuboTV, SN360
  • Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Game 3, 10:30 PM, NBCSN, fuboTV, SN

Round-robin

  • Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars, 6:30 PM, NHLN, fuboTV

Thursday, August 6

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Game 3, TBD
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers, Game 4 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers, TBD

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild, Game 3, TBD
  • Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets, Game 4 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues, TBD

Friday, August 7

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers, Game 4 *, TBD
  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens, Game 4 *, TBD
  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Game 4 *, TBD

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes, Game 4 *, TBD
  • Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild, Game 4 *, TBD
  • Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Game 4 *, TBD

Saturday, August 8

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 5 *, TBD
  • Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 5 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals, TBD

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames, Game 5 *, TBD
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, Game 5 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche, TBD

Sunday, August 9

Eastern conference
Best-of-five series

  • Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders, Game 5 *, TBD
  • Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Game 5 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Philadelphia flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, TBD

Western conference
Best-of-five series

  • Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 5 *, TBD
  • Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators, Game 5 *, TBD

Round-robin

  • Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues, TBD

* If necessary

NHL Leader Board, Playoff Bracket

Twenty-four teams (12 in each conference) compete for the Stanley Cup:

Eastern conference

SeedTeamMentionPoints pc.
1Boston Bruins44-14-12.714
2Tampa Bay Lightning43-21-6.657
3Washington capitals41-20-8.652
4Philadelphia Flyers41-21-7.645
5Pittsburgh Penguins40-23-6.623
6Carolina Hurricanes38-25-5.596
7New York Islanders35-23-10.588
8Toronto maple leaves36-25-9.579
9Columbus Blue Jackets33-33-15.579
10Florida panthers35-26-8.565
11New York Rangers37-28-5.564
12Montreal Canadiens31-31-9.500

Western conference

SeedTeamMentionPoints pc.
1Louis Blues42-19-10.662
2Colorado Avalanche42-20-8.657
3Vegas Golden Knights39-24-8.606
4Dallas Stars37-24-8.594
5Edmonton Oilers37-25-9.585
6Nashville Predators35-26-8.565
7Vancouver Canucks36-27-6.565
8Calgary Flames36-27-7.564
9Winnipeg Jets37-28-6.563
10Minnesota Wild35-27-7.558
11Arizona Coyotes33-29-8.529
12Chicago Blackhawks32-30-8.514

Teams not participating

TeamMentionPoints pc.
Buffalo Sabers30-31-8.493
Devils of New Jersey28-29-12.493
Anaheim Ducks29-33-9.472
Los Angeles Kings29-35-6.457
San Jose Sharks29-36-5.450
Senators from Ottawa25-34-120.437
Detroit Red Wings17-49-5.275

Updated opportunities to win the Stanley Cup 2020

TeamOpportunities*
Boston Bruins+650
Tampa Bay Lightning+650
Colorado Avalanche+800
Vegas Golden Knights+850
Philadelphia Flyers+1000
Louis Blues+1100
Washington capitals+1200
Pittsburgh Penguins+1500
Dallas Stars+1600
Toronto maple leaves+1800
Edmonton Oilers+2500
Vancouver Canucks+3600
Winnipeg Jets+3600
Nashville Predators+4000
New York Rangers+4000
Calgary Flames+4200
Carolina Hurricanes+4200
Minnesota Wild+4500
New York Islanders+4500
Arizona Coyotes+5500
Columbus Blue Jackets+5500
Florida panthers+6000
Chicago Blackhawks+6500
Montreal Canadiens+8000
* Fanduel.com opportunities on July 31.

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