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2020 Stanley Cup playoffs

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Template:Infobox hockey tournament season

The 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs is the ongoing playoff tournament of the National Hockey League (NHL). The playoffs began on August 1, 2020, and will tentatively conclude no later than October 4, 2020, with the Stanley Cup Finals, to determine the winner of the Stanley Cup. The playoffs were originally scheduled to begin in April, a few days after the 2019–20 NHL season, and end in June. However, on March 12, 2020, the regular season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]

On May 26, commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the league was going to use a 24-team playoff format to finish the season, conducted in two or more host cities as "hubs" with players placed under strict health protocols, quarantined from the general public, and all games played behind closed doors with no fans admitted. On July 10, the league ratified an agreement for its protocols with the NHL Players Association (NHLPA). The Eastern Conference will play its early-round games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, while the early rounds for the Western Conference, as well as the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.[2] This will be the first Stanley Cup playoffs to be contested entirely in Canada since 1925, as well as the first time that the Stanley Cup will be awarded on Canadian soil since 2011.[3]

The Boston Bruins made the playoffs as the Presidents' Trophy winners with the most points (i.e. best record) during the regular season. The Pittsburgh Penguins increased their postseason appearance streak to fourteen seasons, the current longest streak. For the first time since 1996, all California-based teams, the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks, missed the playoffs. Six Canadian-based teams made the postseason this year, the most since 1993. It also marks the first time since 1986 that all four teams in cities based in Western Canada made the playoffs. In addition, it marked the first time that both the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes (previously the original Jets, before relocation) qualified for the playoffs in the same season, as well as the first time the Coyotes made the playoffs since 2012. For the first time since 1999, all former WHA teams (Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, and Colorado Avalanche) made the playoffs.

Playoff format[edit source | edit]

On May 26, the league announced that 24 teams (12 per conference) advanced to this special conference-based playoff tournament with teams being seeded based on their points percentage at the time the regular season was suspended on March 12. The top four teams in each conference are playing in a separate Seeding Round Robin to determine the seeding in the First Round. These games are being played with regular season overtime and shootout rules, with the clubs accumulating points like the regular season, and any ties in the round-robin standings will be broken by the regular-season points percentage. The eight lower seeded teams in each conference are playing in the Qualifying Round, a best-of-five series with playoff overtime rules. The winners of these series will advance to face one of the round-robin teams in the First Round.[4]

On May 28, the NHL stated that both the round-robin and the qualifying round will also count under playoff records, on the same day that the league declared the winners of the stats-based regular-season NHL awards.[5] The league then announced on June 4 that all series after the qualifying round will remain a best-of-seven series but will be re-seeded after each round.[6] With the ratification of an extension to the collective bargaining agreement on July 10, the league also announced that all teams participating in the Qualifying Round are considered to have made the playoffs and have participated in a playoff series.[7]

Host cities[edit source | edit]

The playoffs are being held in two "hub" cities both in Canada; Edmonton, Alberta at Rogers Place, and Toronto, Ontario at Scotiabank Arena. They were announced as host cities on July 10 with the NHLPA's ratification of the Return to Play plan, and an extension to its collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA through the 2025–26 season. In the early rounds, each city will host all the games in a conference: the Eastern Conference teams are playing in Toronto, and the Western Conference teams are playing in Edmonton. All games in the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals will be played in Edmonton.[3]

Edmonton and Toronto were among a shortlist of ten host cities announced on May 26, along with Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Saint Paul, and Vancouver.[4] After the league cut the shortlist down to six cities on June 22, Las Vegas and Vancouver were considered to be the frontrunners to host games.[8] Shortly after this, Vancouver dropped out of consideration on June 25, after health officials in British Columbia were unable to agree with the league on a protocol in the event that a player tested positive for COVID-19.[9] Las Vegas and the other U.S. cities were passed over after Nevada and other U.S. states began to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases in late June; it was reported that the NHL originally intended to have one host city in Canada and one in the United States.[10][11]

Each group of teams are playing inside what is called a "bubble."[12][13] A secure perimeter was constructed around both venues with various amenities, with Edmonton's covering four hotels in the Ice District and Rogers Place's existing practice facilities, and Toronto's split between Exhibition Place and the Fairmont Royal York hotel (which is connected to Scotiabank Arena). Both sites include fitness, dining and recreation areas. Restaurants are operating within the secure zones, and players are able to order outside food via concierge and local food delivery services. The games are being held behind closed doors, but non-participating players are allowed to watch games.[14] A large "stage" with multiple video screens will be constructed to cover the empty stands, and in-arena presentation will be customized for each team when they are the designated home team (including use of their goal music, among other features).[15][14]

Although the general public is not admitted within the direct vicinity of the arena or inside, Oilers Entertainment Group announced plans to set up an outdoor "FanFest" at the site of a former casino near Rogers Place with approval of municipal and provincial health officials, including a "drive-in" screening games and a beer garden.[16]

Medical protocols[edit source | edit]

Under the Return to Play plan ratified on July 10, any player could opt-out of the restart without providing a reason and without any penalty, provided that they informed their team by July 13, when formal training camps opened.[3] COVID-19 tests were then to be administered to players and staff every other day. On July 19, testing increased to three times 48 hours apart. The identities of those who test positive will not be released to the public, they will be isolated and designated with the generic description "unfit for play" until they are medically cleared, and all injury updates will be handled by the league instead of the teams.[17][18]

Teams arrived at their hub city on July 26; they are being isolated in a "secure zone" consisting of their hotels, restaurants, practice facilities, and the arena. Testing is now being done every day,[17] as well as daily temperature and symptom checks. Individuals have to wear masks outside their hotel rooms except when eating, exercising, or while on the ice or bench. Other exceptions include during interviews with appropriate social distancing.[19]

Under the Quarantine Act, all travellers entering Canada are currently required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. The NHL received an exception to this policy for its players and staff, as long as they remain within the secure zone and are restricted from access to or by the general public.[20][21] Anybody who leaves the bubble without prior approval may face a mandatory 14-day quarantine or may be barred from returning. Teams could also face fines or loss of draft picks.[18][19]

Playoff teams[edit source | edit]

The following teams qualified for the playoffs:[22]

Eastern Conference[edit source | edit]

Seeding Round Robin
  1. Boston Bruins, Atlantic Division champions, Eastern Conference regular season champions, Presidents' Trophy winners – .714
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning – .657
  3. Washington Capitals, Metropolitan Division champions – .652
  4. Philadelphia Flyers – .645
Qualifying Round
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins – .623
  2. Carolina Hurricanes – .596
  3. New York Islanders – .588
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs – .579 (28 RWs)
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets – .579 (25 RWs)
  6. Florida Panthers – .565
  7. New York Rangers – .564
  8. Montreal Canadiens – .500

Western Conference[edit source | edit]

Seeding Round Robin
  1. St. Louis Blues, Central Division champions, Western Conference regular season champions – .662
  2. Colorado Avalanche – .657
  3. Vegas Golden Knights, Pacific Division champions – .606
  4. Dallas Stars – .594
Qualifying Round
  1. Edmonton Oilers – .585
  2. Nashville Predators – .565 (28 RWs)
  3. Vancouver Canucks – .565 (27 RWs)
  4. Calgary Flames – .564
  5. Winnipeg Jets – .563
  6. Minnesota Wild – .558
  7. Arizona Coyotes – .529
  8. Chicago Blackhawks – .514

Playoff bracket[edit source | edit]

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Exhibition games[edit source | edit]

Prior to the start of the playoffs, all 24 qualified teams played one exhibition game.[23]

July 28[edit source | edit]

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July 29[edit source | edit]

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July 30[edit source | edit]

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Seeding round robin[edit source | edit]

Note: All times listed are in EDT (UTC−4). Due to the length of previously played games on the same day, some start times may be subject to change.

The top four playoff teams in each conference are playing in a round-robin tournament against each other to determine the final playoff seeding. These games are being played with regular season overtime and shootout rules, with the teams accumulating points like the regular season, and any ties in the round-robin standings will be broken by the regular-season points percentage instead of regulation wins.

Eastern Conference seeding round-robin[edit source | edit]

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Eastern Conference seeding round-robin results[edit source | edit]

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Western Conference seeding round-robin[edit source | edit]

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Western Conference seeding round-robin results[edit source | edit]

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Qualifying Round[edit source | edit]

Note: All times listed are in EDT (UTC−4). Due to the length of previously played games on the same day some start times may be subject to change.

The bottom eight playoff teams in each conference are playing in a best-of-five series to determine which four teams will advance to the First Round. These games are being played with Stanley Cup playoff overtime rules. Seeding was determined by regular season points percentage.

Eastern Conference Qualifying Round[edit source | edit]

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens[edit source | edit]

Pittsburgh finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with 86 points in 69 games for a points percentage of .623. Montreal gained 71 points in 71 games for a points percentage of .500 to finish twelfth in the Eastern Conference. This is the third playoff meeting between these two teams, with Montreal winning both previous series. They last met in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Montreal won in seven games. Pittsburgh won two of the three games in this year's regular season series.

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(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers[edit source | edit]

Carolina finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with 81 points in 68 games for a points percentage of .596. New York gained 79 points in 70 games for a points percentage of .564 to finish eleventh in the Eastern Conference. This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. New York won all four games in this year's regular season series.

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(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers[edit source | edit]

New York finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with 80 points in 68 games for a points percentage of .588. Florida gained 78 points in 69 games for a points percentage of .565 to finish tenth in the Eastern Conference. This is the second playoff meeting between these two teams. Their only previous meeting was in the 2016 Eastern Conference First Round, which New York won in six games. New York won all three games in this year's regular season series.

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(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets[edit source | edit]

Toronto finished eighth in the Eastern Conference with 81 points in 70 games for a points percentage of .579 and 28 RWs. Columbus had the same points percentage, but with 25 RWs they finished ninth. This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. These teams split their two-game regular season series.

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Western Conference Qualifying Round[edit source | edit]

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks[edit source | edit]

Edmonton finished fifth in the Western Conference with 83 points in 71 games for a points percentage of .585. Chicago gained 72 points in 70 games for a points percentage of .514 to finish twelfth in the Western Conference. This is the fifth playoff meeting between these two teams, with Edmonton winning three of the four previous series. They last met in the 1992 Clarence Campbell Conference Finals, which Chicago won in a four-game sweep. Chicago won two of the three games in this year's regular season series.

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(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes[edit source | edit]

Nashville finished sixth in the Western Conference with 78 points in 69 games for a points percentage of .565, winning the tiebreaker against Vancouver with 28 RWs. Arizona gained 74 points in 70 games for a points percentage of .529 to finish eleventh in the Western Conference. This is the second playoff meeting between these two teams. Their only previous meeting was in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, which Arizona won in five games. These teams split their two-game regular season series.

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(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild[edit source | edit]

Vancouver finished seventh in the Western Conference with 78 points in 69 games for a points percentage of .565, losing the tiebreaker against Nashville with 27 RWs. Minnesota gained 77 points in 69 games for a points percentage of .558 to finish tenth in the Western Conference. This is the second playoff meeting between these two teams. Their only previous meeting was in the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals, which Minnesota came back from a 3–1 series deficit to win in seven games. Minnesota won two of the three games in this year's regular season series.

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(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets[edit source | edit]

Calgary finished eighth in the Western Conference with 79 points in 70 games for a points percentage of .564. Winnipeg gained 80 points in 71 games for a points percentage of .563 to finish ninth in the Western Conference. This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. This is also the first Stanley Cup playoff meeting between these two cities since 1987. Winnipeg won the only game in this year's regular season series, which was played outdoors.

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Media[edit source | edit]

This marks the sixth postseason under Rogers Sports & Media's 12-year contract for Canadian television rights to the NHL. All games are exclusively broadcast by Sportsnet networks and CBC Television under the Hockey Night in Canada brand, and streamed on Sportsnet Now, CBCSports.ca (for games televised by CBC), or the subscription service Rogers NHL Live.[24][25]

This is also the ninth postseason under NBC Sports' current 10-year contract for American rights. All national coverage of games are being aired on either NBCSN, the NBC broadcast network, NHL Network, or USA Network. During the round-robins, qualifying round, and first round, excluding games exclusively broadcast on NBC, the regional rightsholders of each participating U.S. team will produce local telecasts of their respective games.[26][27]

Only technical staff such as cameramen and producers are present inside the "bubble;" a clean host feed is sent to media partners to add commentary and surrounding coverage, and interviews with players have to be conducted via videoconferencing.[28] Additional cameras are being used to provide new angles not usually possible when a crowd is present,[29] and de-emphasize views of the arenas' stands. The telecasts use simulated crowd noise provided by Electronic Arts, combined with recordings of team-specific chants by season ticketholders of participating teams (the latter of which will also be played in-arena). All games carry a five second broadcast delay in order to censor offensive language.[15][14][30][31]

While it initially stated that all commentators would broadcast remotely, the league has nevertheless allowed a handful of both Sportsnet and NBC commentators and reporters into the hubs to call select games.[18] Chris Cuthbert, who jumped from TSN to Sportsnet during the break in June, and Louie DeBrusk will be on-site in Edmonton;[32] and Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson are on-site in Toronto.[33] For NBC, John Forslund, Mike Milbury, and Brian Boucher are in Toronto; and Pierre McGuire in Edmonton. NBC also plans for "the majority of calls" to eventually be conducted on-site, including the last two rounds of the playoffs in Edmonton. In the meantime, most of NBC's commentators work games remotely from NBC Sports' studios in Stamford, Connecticut (besides Mike Emrick, who will work games from a home studio in the Detroit area).[34][35]

NBC staff will work the Toronto broadcasts, while Sportsnet staff will work the Edmonton broadcasts.[18][36] Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun reported on Canadian freelance broadcast workers upset that NBC personnel were being allowed into Canada to work in Toronto instead of them.[36] The NHL's EVP of communications Gary Meagher stated that splitting production in this manner had been intended "from the onset". Premier of Ontario Doug Ford admitted that plans of NBC's involvement were not part of the early negotiations with the league.[37]

References[edit source | edit]

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External links[edit source | edit]

Template:2019–20 NHL season by team Template:Stanley Cup playoffs