While the coronavirus put sports on hold, some leagues are starting to come back. NASCAR has already returned and the NBA will return on July 31. The NHL is getting ready to come back, too.
When the NHL returns, it will go straight to the playoffs. All series in the playoffs will be best-of-seven and will be set based on seeding. The playoffs will begin with a 16-team, eight-series qualifying round (best of five) and a seeded round robin among the top four teams in each conference to determine the seeds for the playoffs.
The highest seed in each conference will play the lowest seed in that conference and so forth in each round. During the round robin, ties will be broken by regular season points percentage.
The highest seed will be the home team in Games 1, 2, and 5 in the qualifying round. In the first two rounds and conference finals, the highest-seeded team will be the home team in Games 1, 2, 5, and 7. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the team with the highest regular season points percentage will be the home team for Games 1, 2, 5, and 7.
The NHL has said that it will resume play in two “hub” cities and has a list of 10 possible cities. Now, the NHL and the NHLPA must agree on health and safety protocols for the games. The league already said that it will test players daily for coronavirus.
The NHL’s playoff announcement comes at the same time that the Pittsburgh Penguins announced one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19. The team said that the player is isolated and has recovered.