It has been 137 days because the NHL hit the pause button on the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic … and we’re now 5 days away from the beginning of the 24-team postseason event to find out the 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
As gamers, coaches, broadcasters and followers stay up for the start of the qualification spherical on Saturday, there are a selection of lingering questions relating to life within the bubble, how the video games will look and far more. Get caught up on all of it right here.
Extra: See the total postseason schedule right here.
We have now video games coming! How can I watch them?
Emily Kaplan: Prepare for Stanley Cup playoff hockey such as you’ve by no means seen it earlier than — fairly actually. The NHL is restarting in two hub cities (Toronto for the Jap Convention and Edmonton, Alberta, for the Western Convention), and the league has taken full benefit of fan-less arenas to create a tv spectacle. This must be an fascinating case examine for anybody who has argued that hockey is healthier consumed in individual and that it is tough to comply with on a display screen. Sometimes, 20 cameras are used for an NHL broadcast. On this summer season’s event, there will likely be 32 cameras per recreation, and you can see recreation motion angles of which you may need solely dreamed.
Even higher: It’ll be March Insanity-style, nonstop motion the primary week. There will likely be three video games per day in every hub metropolis, staggered in two-hours-apart time zones, which signifies that beginning at midday ET, we may have upwards of 15 straight hours of hockey every day. All of it begins Saturday.
NBC is the NHL’s U.S. TV accomplice. Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 5, NBC Sports activities will current protection of a minimum of 4 video games every day throughout NBC, NBCSN and USA Community. That features some video games that will likely be joined in-progress.
What if I purchased NHL Middle Ice or the NHL.TV streaming bundle?
Kaplan: From Aug. 1 by means of Aug. 5, 21 video games will likely be obtainable on NHL Middle Ice or streamed on NHL.TV, although native blackouts will apply. Keep in mind, as a result of the qualification spherical is an extension of the common season, these video games will likely be broadcast on native regional sports activities networks.
The NHL says it’ll announce further video games after Aug. 5 “if obtainable.”
Refresh me on the event format and the matchups.
Greg Wyshynski: When the NHL paused its season on March 12, groups had between 11 and 14 video games remaining on their schedules. As a result of the playoff races across the wild-card bubbles had been so tight, the choice was made to develop the playoffs to 24 groups. The NHL and the gamers agreed to restart the season in two hub cities, with 12 Jap Convention groups heading to Toronto and 12 Western Convention groups heading to Edmonton to play video games in arenas with out followers.
There will likely be exhibition video games from July 28 to July 30, only one per staff. The “qualification spherical” of the postseason finds the highest 4 groups in every convention taking part in each other in a spherical robin. Groups requested for video games that “matter” to assist them put together for later rounds. At stake is playoff seeding, as the present fourth-place groups may soar to first place with three wins. The East groups, by seed: (1) Boston Bruins, (2) Tampa Bay Lightning, (3) Washington Capitals and (4) Philadelphia Flyers. The Western Convention: (1) St. Louis Blues, (2) Colorado Avalanche, (3) Vegas Golden Knights and (4) Dallas Stars.
The remainder of the groups are taking part in best-of-five playoff collection for the appropriate to advance to the normal round-of-16 Stanley Cup event. The groups within the spherical robin and the qualification spherical will likely be reseeded earlier than the quarterfinals.
The 4 best-of-five collection of the qualifiers within the Jap Convention: No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens; No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers; No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers; No. eight Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 4 best-of-five collection of the qualifiers within the Western Convention: No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks; No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes; No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild; No. eight Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets.
Any harm updates from the previous week?
Kaplan: We acquired a variety of readability, as groups needed to submit their last 31-player rosters to the NHL on Friday. First, some excellent news in Chicago: Beginning goaltender Corey Crawford, who has been out and “unfit to play” for all of coaching camp, is touring with the staff to Edmonton. Crawford revealed to reporters that he examined optimistic for COVID-19 and was quarantining at house in Chicago.
“The primary few days that I began feeling signs, that was the toughest,” Crawford mentioned in a video name. “The final couple weeks, possibly a bit of bit extra, was a bit of bit simpler. However I nonetheless could not actually do a lot in case there was one thing mistaken with my lungs or my coronary heart, so we needed to get that checked out first earlier than I actually began pushing within the gymnasium or come on the ice.”
The Blackhawks are hoping that Crawford will be prepared for his or her qualification-round collection towards Edmonton — and the high-scoring duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, nevertheless, is not on the playoff roster. Seabrook says he does not really feel snug sufficient after present process surgical procedures to his left hip, proper hip and proper shoulder within the span of two months earlier this yr.
Capitals backup goalie Ilya Samsonov is not going to be obtainable this summer season. He is rehabbing an harm that he sustained earlier than the restart, although Washington says he must be wholesome for the 2020-21 season — when he is anticipated to take over the beginning position from pending free agent Braden Holtby. That leaves Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek because the Caps’ choices behind Holtby this summer season.
Star rookie defenseman Cale Makar returned to Avalanche follow on Saturday in a noncontact jersey after a number of days of being “unfit to play.” He’s anticipated to journey along with his staff to the bubble. The Coyotes acquired a scare when captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage with an obvious harm, however coach Rick Tocchet advised reporters that he does not assume it is something critical.
One exhibition match I will be keeping track of is Tampa Bay versus Florida on Wednesday. That is as a result of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hasn’t skated a full follow with the regulars throughout coaching camp. His presence within the exhibition recreation may point out if he is able to go for round-robin play.
Wyshynski: The NHL hoped that the quarantine exceptions given to gamers and coaches might be prolonged to others, however Bettman mentioned final week that he and Daly must stay of their resort rooms like everybody else crossing the border.
“Invoice and I’ve truly put ourselves on the again burner as a result of we do not have the requisite approvals to enter Canada or the bubble with out a 14-day quarantine,” Bettman mentioned Friday throughout a media convention. “We even have an open query as as to if or not an proprietor or a senior government of a membership can are available and watch the video games from outdoors the bubble. These are questions which are nonetheless evolving.”
Any lingering questions in regards to the bubble?
Kaplan: The NHL acquired an honest scare when a storm rolled by means of Edmonton on July 16 and brought about flooding and harm to Rogers Place. After assessing, NHL officers say the sector is sweet to go for subsequent week’s video games. Disaster averted.
Many have puzzled what the ice circumstances will likely be like at every of the arenas. The NHL has by no means performed this late in the summertime, and humid climate often means uneven ice. Nevertheless, NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell mentioned he is assured that it will not be a problem.
“The true drawback is when the doorways open in a facility and the followers are available, with their physique warmth,” Campbell mentioned. “We have now no issues in regards to the ice circumstances, and we have talked with our ice guys in depth about this.”
One other challenge on which we’re awaiting readability: Gamers’ households had been supposed to hitch them within the hub cities by the convention finals. That is one thing the gamers requested for in negotiations with the league. Nevertheless, the NHL says it’s nonetheless understanding how that can work and what ranges of quarantine and contract tracing will likely be wanted to combine a wave of recent folks into the bubble.
There appear to be a variety of group actions within the bubbles. How is the NHL dealing with social distancing with gamers?
Wyshynski: Among the many facilities that obtained probably the most consideration in Section Four had been the participant lounges, which embody the whole lot from video video games to pool tables to TVs the place they will (in concept) watch their opponents in motion. The lounges additionally embody eating places the place gamers can congregate and seize a steak dinner. Contemplating that these sorts of locations are closed or restricted in lots of cities throughout North America, will the gamers preserve social distancing requirements?
“They’re so social distanced,” mentioned Steve Mayer, NHL chief content material officer and senior government VP of occasions and leisure. “There are participant lounges, however it’s a must to see the way it’s laid out. Social distancing, sporting masks, it is all taken under consideration. A desk that sometimes seats six now seats three. A desk for 4 is a desk for 2. We have had a restaurant [in Edmonton] that is been open for 10 days for us. It usually seats about 140 folks, and its capability is now 60. We’re being super-over-exaggerated in some methods. And I do not understand how the gamers are going to react to that. Are they going for use to it already? It is an acquired style, however we’re going to hammer it house. After some time, you get it.”
How a lot enter on “bubble life” did the gamers have?
Wyshynski: We had been all actually stunned by how collaborative the NHL and the NHLPA had been all through this course of, however that was bred by necessity. That vibe continued in creating life contained in the bubbles. There have been zoom calls with a small group of gamers who provided their enter.
“We have been assembly with the gamers fairly repeatedly since this was all introduced, and their enter was fairly common. We have now an open communication that they’ve taken benefit of,” mentioned Mayer, who gave his private contact data to gamers as a way to proceed conversations. “They have been superior. They make strategies. And now they’re asking questions on getting laundry achieved of their inns. They definitely had a voice, and we predict we listened.”
Every participant is receiving a 60-page handbook in his resort room that particulars the whole lot about bubble life, from maps to facilities. That is beginning to sound like a vacation spot wedding ceremony. Will there even be a bag on the entrance desk with a bottle of water, snacks and Advil?
Lastly, what’s your popular culture dependancy this week?
Kaplan: I am simply pleased with my Champions League-bound Chelsea Blues. What a superb two-minute stretch on the finish of the primary half Sunday to clinch a giant win over the Wolves.
Wyshynski: I have been binging some recreation reveals I like (“The Chase,” which is on Netflix and a ton of enjoyable) and a few films I’ve missed (“Uncut Gems,” in all probability the most effective film that can ever be made that includes each Idina Menzel and Kevin Garnett). However a lot of my free time has spent with the dozen incarnations of “90 Day Fiancé,” TV’s unlikeliest franchise of spinoffs that every one handle their very own particular stage of cringe.
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