I think we all can admit that 2020 has not been our year so far. However, we will be able to enjoy NHL Playoff hockey sooner than later. With players slowly returning to practice, we are getting ready for possibly the most unique playoff format in NHL history.
Twenty-four teams will make the playoffs this year. The top 4 teams from each conference will get first-round byes and play in a round-robin to decide their seeds. The rest of the teams will play in a 5-game series to advance to the second round.
The top teams out of the Eastern Conference are the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Philadelphia Flyers. The teams without a first-round bye are the Penguins, Canadians, Hurricanes, Rangers, Islanders, Panthers, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jackets.
The top four teams from the Western Conference are the reigning champion St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars. The teams that will be playing in the first round are the Oilers, Blackhawks, Predators, Coyotes, Canucks, Wild, Flames, and Jets.
From a betting aspect, this could open a lot of doors for the lower teams that may not have made the playoffs otherwise. The teams will be playing their games at neutral sites with no fans, so it does take away any home-ice advantage the top seeds might normally have. Every team has also been on a long break and this could really shake up which teams are going to come into this tournament with momentum.
Teams with the Best Shot
Teams with talented rosters that weren’t able to get momentum during the regular season could be the teams to watch out for in this playoff format. I believe the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers could be two teams to really watch out for, especially in the first round.
These are two teams with a lot of talent that couldn’t seem to get things going earlier this season. If they come into this well-rested and motivated, they could shake things up right off the bat.
The top teams I would be watching out for are the teams that couldn’t quite get it done over the past few years. Teams like the Bruins, Avalanche, and Lightning could use this as an opportunity to really dial in and make a push to the Cup.
The Lightning had the most points last year but fell short when they were swept in the first round. This is their chance at redemption for the very talented team.
The Bruins lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year. After being that close to achieving their goal and finishing this season with the most points, they are definitely looking to finish business this season.
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