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2020 NHL Playoffs

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2020 NHL Playoffs Bracket: The Covid Postseason

It may not happen, but it COULD happen.

Is it almost time for the 2020 NHL Playoffs? We are a lot closer than we were.

For a while, from the time the season was suspended in March until now, the playing-out of the 2019-20 NHL season was very much in doubt. Indeed, almost every professional sports season was. Just in recent days and weeks have some returned, like Korean baseball, German soccer, and the Australian Football League (in June). However, where were the American sports in all of this?

In case you have been off the grid and/or living in a cave, things have not been great in the United States lately. For quite a while, it was unclear HOW sports could come back, and even if they did, what kind of product would it be?

When it gets down to it, if it’s safe and it’s fun, who the hell cares what the product is? It’s a product! (Just keep this in mind about us: this is a sports website. We are not here to moralize over the should-they-or-shouldn’t-they, just cover what’s happening. Sports are happening again, apparently, and we won’t pretend they’re not. Besides, if it’s not safe, it’s not happening, anyway.)

This is the National Hockey League postseason none of us expected, none of us could have predicted, and will be near impossible to predict going forward.

We’re just too excited to finally have a bracket to be able to give you, even if just a pro forma bracket that may or may not happen.

2020 NHL Playoffs: How Did We Get Here?

The NHL season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, the same day the March Madness festivities were cancelled mid-tournament.

In the following weeks, with states and entire nations wondering when they would hit their peak in cases, it remained unclear if seasons would be able to resume at all. Some expected that there would be no Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

However, talks were ongoing about the right time to jump-start the season and where. Finally, on May 26, 2020, the NHL and NHLPA agreed on the framework for the conclusion of the 2019-20 hockey season. The regular season, which had between 11 and 14 games left for all teams, is over. When play resumes, it will be the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, at this point, we do not know when that will be, but all eyes will be on the summer. A resurgence in the virus and/or player illness can, and likely would, trash the whole plan.

Playoff Format

24 teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or 12 from each conference. The top four will play in their own round-robin tournament to determine playoff seeding, while teams 5 through 12 in the conference will face off in a wild-card tournament with best-of-five series.1 The bracket would then evolve from there in best-of-seven play.

Play would be confined to two host cities which have yet to be picked.2

2020 NHL Playoffs Bracket

As of May 26, the order of the top four seeds is yet to be determined, but we know how the first round would look. When it’s time to kick this into high gear, we will.

2020 NHL Playoffs Bracket - First Round

Will the 2020 Stanley Cup Winner Be “Legitimate”?

The Stanley Cup still sparkles as bright no matter who is hoisting it, or when.

It is fair to give the teams lower down the standings a play-in series this one time, and we are normally opposed to playoff expansion. Given those extra 11-14 games, teams that were a few points out of a playoff bid may have made it had the season played out; this gives them a chance to prove it while excluding the obvious flops like Detroit and less-obvious flops like Ottawa and New Jersey.

References

1: David K. Li and Doha Madani, “NHL announces plans to resume season with 24-team playoff,” NBC News, May 26, 2020, NBC News Link)

2: Kathryn Krawczyk, “NHL season will finish with 24-team playoff bracket confined to 2 ‘hub cities’,” The Week, May 26, 2020, The Week Link)

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