The Vegas Golden Knights hit the practice ice at City National Arena in Las Vegas as the National Hockey League (NHL) returns to play this week for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL is moving quickly as the league and players association agreed on a collective bargaining agreement just a couple of days ago. The new agreement includes a plan for the NHL to begin its season after a 142-day break to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
NHL return to play plan
Despite rumors, the NHL will not return to play in Las Vegas. Instead, when games resume, the hub cities will be north of the border in Canada. The 12 participating Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto. The Golden Knights and other participating Western Conference teams will compete in Edmonton.
After the qualifying round, the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will take place in Edmonton.
The puck drops on the return of the NHL season on Aug. 1 with five games. There will be game action day and night as the schedule will have five or six games per day beginning as early as 9 a.m. PT.
The schedule right now has teams in Toronto playing games at approximately 9 a.m, 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. Teams in Edmonton are slated to hit the ice at 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m and 7:30 p.m. (all times in PT).
Qualifying round series odds
Circa Sports has series odds, Stanley Cup futures odds and Yes/No on whether or not teams will win the NHL Stanley Cup this year. Here are the qualifying round series odds:
- Edmonton Oilers -160 vs. Chicago Blackhawks +140
- Nashville Predators -130 vs. Phoenix Coyotes +110
- Vancouver Canucks -130 vs. Minnesota Wild +110
- Calgary Flames -120 vs. Winnipeg Jets Even
Pittsburgh Penguins -215 vs. Montreal Canadiens +185
Carolina Hurricanes -140 vs. New York Rangers +120
New York Islanders -110 vs. Florida Panthers -110
Toronto Maple Leafs -165 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets +145
The BetMGM sportsbook app is the first with lines for the first game of each series.
Conference round robin tournament
The Vegas Golden Knights won’t participate in an opening-round series. The Golden Knights and each of the top four teams will participate in a round robin mini-tournament to determine the seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The NHL is planning to drop the puck for the qualifying series beginning Aug. 1. The round robin tournament begins a day later on Aug. 2. The Vegas Golden Knights might not play on the opening day of the mini-tournament. It appears as though the Golden Knights will play their first game on Aug. 3.
The Golden Knights first round-robin game against the Dallas Stars is tentatively scheduled for 3:30pm PDT on Monday August 3rd.
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) July 13, 2020
William Hill is the first Nevada sports betting app to have odds on which teams will win the top overall seed for their respective conferences. The St. Louis Blues are the favorite to be the top overall seed for the Western Conference:
- Blues +220
- Golden Knights +240
- Colorado Avalanche +250
- Dallas Stars +400
The Western Conference odds are fairly close. That’s not the case for the other conference round robin tournament. There’s a clear-cut favorite for the team to win the top overall seed for the Eastern Conference in Toronto:
- Boston Bruins +160
- Tampa Bay Lightning +250
- Washington Capitals +400
- Philadelphia Flyers +400
The round-robin and qualifying series will be played relatively quickly. Only nine days are allotted for the five-game series and round robin tournament.
The Golden Knights are a -120 favorite in their first game against the Stars who are +105 at Caesars.
The Stanley Cup playoff schedule
The qualifying and round robin rounds will lead to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since there will be so many games each day, the playoffs should move pretty quickly. Hockey fans and bettors will enjoy wall-to-wall hockey for about two months straight.
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs will begin on Aug. 11 with the second round of the playoffs tentatively beginning Aug. 28. As of now, the Conference Finals are scheduled to begin on Sept. 8 with the Stanley Cup Final beginning on Sept 22. The Stanley Cup winner will take home the big prize no later than Oct. 4.