The Nashville Predators will be heading to Edmonton on Sunday. The following weekend begins one of the most unique NHL playoff experiences to date.
Phase 4 of the NHL’s Return To Play initiative begins on August 1 with the 16-team qualifying round matchups and round-robin games for the top four teams in each conference.
The Nashville Predators will be taking on the Arizona Coyotes in their qualifying round match that will pit two teams against each other who both struggled to meet preseason expectations.
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Guaranteed playoff spots are going to the top-four of each conference. The other eight teams in each conference are considered qualifying round teams and were seeded using regular season point percentages.
It was a complex plan that the NHL came up with, but one that’s hard to argue against in terms of fairness.
When the qualifying round games are completed, the winners will be seeded against the round robin teams, and the tradition 16-team playoff field will get started.
Also of note, the qualifying round will be under postseason overtime rules, while the round robin games will be determined based on regular season overtime rules.
It has been a long and hard road to get to this point. There was a time when it was very uncertain if the 2019-20 hockey season would return at all to crown a Stanley Cup champion.
Even though the circumstances surrounding the playoffs are extraordinary and different this year, we can still do our usual hockey stuff and make some fun predictions. Here’s a look at the full bracket. Let’s make some predictions in the West.