Stanley Cup Bracket 2020: NHL Playoff Matchups, TV Schedule, Live Stream

After a four-month hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, an expanded postseason and an ad-hoc round robin tournament, the field for the Stanley Cup playoffs is officially set and the race for hockey's biggest prize begins in earnest on Tuesday, August 11.

While the NBA opted to have each of the 22 teams involved in the restart play eight regular season games to determine the playoff seeds, the NHL took a different course.

The top four teams in each conference played separate round-robin tournaments to determine seeding in the first round, while the next best 16 teams—divided by conferences—played best-of-five series to determine which eight franchises will join the top four teams in each conference in the postseason.

Here's all you need to know about the playoffs.

When do the NHL playoffs start?

The 2020 postseason gets underway on Tuesday, August 11 with the opening game for four of the eight series. The remaining three matchups begin the following day.

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The first round of the playoffs will be concluded at the latest by August 23.

Which teams are in the NHL playoffs?

The Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lighting, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Montreal Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets, meanwhile, were the main beneficiaries of the expanded postseason format.

The Canadiens entered the qualifying tournament as the 12th-seeded team and defeated the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in four games, while the No. 9 Blue Jackets defeated the No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2.

Columbus and Montreal enter the playoffs as the No. 7 and No. 8 respectively, with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders at No. 5 and No. 6 completing the playoffs picture in the Eastern Conference.

The Western Conference also saw two teams benefit from the expanded postseason, with the No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks defeating the No. 5 Edmonton Oilers in four games, while the 11th seed Arizona Coyotes eliminated the sixth seeded Nashville Predators 3-1.

The Blackhawks and the Coyotes go into the playoffs as the eighth and seventh seed respectively, with the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames at No. 5 and No. 6.

The Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and reigning Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues are the top-four seeds.

How do the NHL playoffs work during COVID-19?

The Stanley Cup playoffs will follow the traditional 16-team format from now on. The top-seeded team in each conference takes on the bottom-seeded team in a best-of-seven series, with the second seed playing the seventh seed, while the third and fourth seeded teams play the sixth and fourth-seeded teams respectively.

The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will also be best-of-seven series.

The notable difference, however, is that due to the coronavirus pandemic all playoff games will be played without fans at the two venues that have hosted the round robin and qualifying games so far.

Eastern Conference games will be held at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, while Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Stanley Cup, St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues holds the Stanley Cup following the Blues victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bruce Bennett/Getty

Where to watch the NHL playoffs

NBC, NBCSN, USA, NHL Network and CNBC will broadcast the first-round games across the U.S. NHL Network will provide live-streaming for the playoff games, as will NBC Sports Live, both on desktop and via the app.

Live stream will also be available via fuboTV.

Eastern Conference playoff schedule (All times ET)

Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)

  • Game 1—Wednesday, August 12, 8 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Friday, August 14, 3 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Sunday, August 16, 8 p.m., NBC
  • Game 4—Tuesday, August 18, 3 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 19, 21 and 23.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7)

  • Game 1—Tuesday, August 11, 3 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Thursday, August 13, 3 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Saturday, August 15, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 4—Monday, August 17, 3 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 19, 21 and 22.

Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Islanders (6)

  • Game 1—Wednesday, August 12, 3 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Friday, August 14, 8 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Sunday, August 16, 12 p.m., USA
  • Game 4—Tuesday, August 18, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 20, 22 and 23.

Boston Bruins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (5)

  • Game 1—Tuesday, August 11, 8 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Thursday, August 13, 8 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Saturday, August 15, 12 p.m., NBC
  • Game 4—Monday, August 17, 8 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 19, 20 and 23.

Western Conference playoffs schedule (All times ET)

Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8)

  • Game 1—Tuesday, August 11, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Thursday, August 13, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Saturday, August 15, 8 p.m., NBC
  • Game 4—Sunday, August 16, 6:30 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 18, 20 and 22.

Colorado Avalanche (2) vs. Arizona Coyotes (7)

  • Game 1—Wednesday, August 12, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Friday, August 14, 2 p.m., NHL Network
  • Game 3—Saturday, August 15, 3 p.m., CNBC
  • Game 4—Monday, August 17, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 19, 21 and 23.

Dallas Stars (3) vs. Calgary Flames (6)

  • Game 1—Tuesday, August 11, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Thursday, August 13, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 3—Friday, August 14, 10:30 p.m., NBC
  • Game 4—Sunday, August 16, 2 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 18, 20 and 22.

St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Vancouver Canucks (5)

  • Game 1—Wednesday, August 11, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN
  • Game 2—Friday, August 13, 6:30 p.m., NHL Network
  • Game 3—Sunday, August 15, 10:30 p.m., CNBC
  • Game 4—Monday, August 16, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN

Eventual Game 5, 6 and 7 to be played on August 19, 21 and 23.

NHL Playoffs, Stanley Cup
A general view of the opening face-off of overtime in a Western Conference Round Robin game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff at Rogers Place on August 8 in Edmonton, Alberta. Jeff Vinnick/Getty
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