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NHL playoff bracket 2020: Updated standings, seeds & Round 1 projections for Stanley Cup playoffs

Sporting News — (Joe Rivera)

The chase for the Cup is back on.

After a four-month layoff, the ice is cooled, the teams are hot and the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs officially get underway on Aug. 11. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the NHL to get a bit creative with its restart, and because of that, hockey-starved fans get a little dose of semi-playoffs with teams jockeying for playoff position and playoff spots over a week span starting on Saturday.

The gist: The top four teams in each conference will play each other once to determine seeding in the Stanley Cup playoffs, while the remaining eight teams in each conference play qualifiers to make the dance.

Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ont. and Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta., will play host to the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with Rogers Place housing the conference finals and the Stanley Cup final. Should all go according to plan, with players staying healthy within the NHL's bubble, the season is scheduled to end no later than Oct. 4. 

Here's what you need to know about the round-robin and qualifying rounds and the start of the 2020 NHL playoffs:

MORE: Everything to know about the NHL's bubble cities

NHL playoff bracket 2020

Eastern Conference

Round robin

The top four teams will compete in a seeding round-robin tourney:

DateGameTime/results
Aug. 2Flyers vs. BruinsFlyers 4, Bruins 1
Aug. 3Capitals vs. LightningLightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Aug. 5Lightning vs. BruinsLightning 3, Bruins 2
Aug. 6Capitals vs. FlyersFlyers 3, Capitals 1 
Aug. 8Flyers vs. LightningFlyers 4, Lightning 1
Aug. 9Bruins vs. CapitalsCapitals 2, Bruins 1

Qualifying round

The following are the matchups for the qualifying round, based on regular season standings/point percentage:

SeriesResults
Penguins (5) vs. Canadiens (12)Canadiens win series 3-1
Hurricanes (6) vs. Rangers (11)Hurricanes win series 3-0
Islanders (7) vs. Panthers (10)Islanders win series 3-1
Maple Leafs (8) vs. Blue Jackets (9)Blue Jackets win series 3-2

Western Conference

Round robin

The top four teams in the West face each other once:

DateGameTime/results
Aug. 2Blues vs. AvalancheAvalanche 2, Blues 1
Aug. 3Stars vs. Golden KnightsGolden Knights 5, Stars 3
Aug. 5.Avalanche vs. StarsAvalanche 4, Stars 0
Aug. 6Golden Knights vs. BluesGolden Knights 6, Blues 4
Aug. 8Golden Knights vs. AvalancheGolden Knights 4, Avalanche 3 (OT)
Aug. 9Stars vs. BluesStars 2, Blues 1 (SO)

Qualifying round

Based on regular-season standings, the following are the matchups for the qualifying round in the West:

SeriesResults
Oilers (5) vs. Blackhawks (12)Blackhawks win series 3-1
Predators (6) vs. Coyotes (11)Coyotes win series 3-1
Canucks (7) vs. Wild (10)Canucks win series 3-1
Flames (8) vs. Jets (9)Flames win series 3-1

NHL playoff projections

Here's what the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs would look like if the qualifying rounds ended today (updated Aug. 9):

Eastern Conference

— Flyers (1) vs. Canadiens (8)

— Lightning (2) vs. Blue Jackets (7)

— Capitals (3) vs. Islanders (6)

— Bruins (4) vs. Hurricanes (5)

Western Conference

— Golden Knights (1) vs. Blackhawks (8)

— Avalanche (2) vs. Coyotes (7)

— Stars (3) vs. Flames (6)

— Blues (4) vs. Canucks (5)

MORE: Here is a complete schedule for the NHL's 2020 restart

When do the NHL playoffs start in 2020?

The 2020 Stanley Cup playoff qualifiers get underway on Saturday, Aug. 1. The Rangers and Hurricanes kick off the qualifying round with a Saturday matinee matchup in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ont. The last games in both the qualifying and round-robin rounds are scheduled take place on Sunday, Aug. 9.

The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs officially get underway on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Teams will be re-seeded after the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

How do the NHL playoffs work?

Prior to the start of the official Stanley Cup playoffs on Aug. 11, there are a few bells and whistles that are going to determine qualification and seeding in both conferences. Here's how that will work:

  • The top four teams in each conference play round-robin style to determine seeding for the top spots in the playoffs. Each team will play each other once, amounting in six games between Aug 2. and Aug. 9. The games will be played under regular season overtime and shootout rules.
  • The remaining eight teams in each conference will play in a best-of-five series to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Seeding is based on regular-season standings. These games are played under playoff overtime rules (golden goal). 
  • After the qualifying rounds and round-robin play is completed, teams advance to the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. The highest seeds will play the lowest seeds, per usual, with re-seeding after both the first and second rounds.
  • Every series from the first round to the last horn of the Stanley Cup Final are seven games, per usual, with the NHL's two hub cities hosting the first two rounds. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held in Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta.

NHL standings 2020

Eastern Conference

RankTeamWLOTLPointsPoints pct
1Bruins441412100.714
2Lightning4321692.657
3Capitals4120890.652
4Flyers4121789.645
5Penguins4023686.623
6Hurricanes3825581.596
7Islanders35231080.588
8Maple Leafs3625981.579
9Blue Jackets33221581.579
10Panthers35221581.565
11Rangers3728579.564
12Canadiens3131971.500
13Sabres3031868.493
14Devils28291268.493
15Senators25341262.437
16Red Wings1749539.275

The Sabres, Devils, Senators and Red Wings all missed the playoffs.

Western Conference

RankTeamWLOTLPointsPoints pct
1Blues42191094.662
2Avalanche4220892.657
3Golden Knights3924886.606
4Stars3724882.594
5Oilers3725983.585
6Predators3526878.565
7Canucks3627678.565
8Flames3627779.564
9Jets3728680.563
10Wild3627777.558
11Coyotes3329874.529
12Blackhawks3230872.514
13Ducks2933967.472
14Kings2935664.457
15Sharks2936563.450

The Ducks, Kings and Sharks all miss out on the chase for the Cup.