NHL

The 2020 NHL Regular Season Is Officially Over — Here’s What the Playoffs Will Look Like

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s plan to hopefully return in 2020 on Tuesday afternoon. In his announcement, Bettman said the NHL will skip the rest of the regular season and jump straight to the playoffs. In the new format, the top 12 teams from each league will make the postseason, and the remaining teams are finished for the year. So, what will the unique 2020 NHL playoffs look like and what will the matchups be?

Gary Bettman unveiled the NHL’s return plans Tuesday

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On Tuesday afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman appeared on Sportsnet’s ‘Tim and Sid’ to announce the league’s plan to return in 2020. Although there was no definitive timeline laid out, Bettman explained how the playoffs will work if the NHL can return this year.

Under the new format, the top 12 teams in each conference will make the playoffs. There will be two hub cities chosen to host the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs. The cities in the running include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Team training camps will hopefully begin in July, and the playoffs will start shortly after. However, there was no official timeline presented Tuesday.

“At this time we are not fixing dates because the schedule of our return to play will be determined both by developing circumstances and the needs of our players,” Bettman told ‘Tim and Sid.’

What will the 2020 NHL playoffs look like?

Instead of the typical 16-team playoff format, the NHL will roll out a 24-team format later this year. The top four seeds in each conference will receive a bye, and the remaining 16 teams will play a best-of-5 series to kick off the postseason.

The four teams receiving byes in the Western Conference will be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Las Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars.

As for the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers will all receive byes. The qualifying round matchups are as follows:

Western Conference

• 5. Edmonton Oilers vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks
• 6. Nashville Predators vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes
• 7. Vancouver Canucks vs. 10 Minnesota Wild
• 8. Calgary Flames vs. 9. Winnipeg Jets

Eastern Conference

• 5. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 12. Montreal Canadiens
• 6. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 11. New York Rangers
• 7. New York Islanders vs. 10. Florida Panthers
• 8. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 9. Columbus Blue Jackets

Who are the betting favorites in the new playoff format?

The 2020 NHL playoff format just announced Tuesday afternoon, but Vegas sportsbooks already released updated odds to win the Stanley Cup. If you’re hungry for some action already, you can bet on the winner now.

The Bruins, who lost in the Stanley Cup Finals last season to the Blues, are the co-favorites with the Lightning and Knights at 6/1 odds. The Avalanche are close behind the top three at 8/1 odds.

The reigning champion Blues are currently 10/1 alongside the 2018 champions, the Capitals. The Flyers, Stars, and Penguins finish up the top contenders, while the rest of the league sits at 30/1 or worse.

It remains to be seen when the NHL will return, but at least we have a plan in place when it’s safe to do so.