Flyers

Everything you need to know about NHL's 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs

Everything you need to know about NHL's 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs

Commissioner Gary Bettman and company have geared up for summer hockey — in March Madness style (kind of).

Looking to award the Stanley Cup despite a lengthy and unprecedented stoppage, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to resume the 2019-20 campaign with a 24-team tournament.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Flyers news and analysis.

The league was forced to suspend the season on March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak. As the hiatus prolonged, it became inevitable that the league would have to forgo the remainder of the regular season. A 24-team tournament makes the decision easier, alleviating the controversy of clubs that were on the playoff bubble with double-digit games left on their regular-season slate when the pause occurred.

Where will games be played?

The hub cities are Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton, Alberta (Western Conference). The East will play its games at Scotiabank Arena (home of the Maple Leafs) and the West at Rogers Place (home of the Oilers).

When will play resume? 

Each team will play one exhibition game before the commencement of the tournament.

The qualifying round will feature best-of-five series with the rest of the playoffs held in best-of-seven series.

Below are key dates to know, while you can see the schedule for the qualifying round/round robin right here.

July 28-30 — Exhibition games
Aug. 1 — Qualifying round begins
Aug. 2 — Round robin begins
Aug. 11 — First round begins
Aug. 25 — Second round begins (tentative)
Sept. 8 – Conference Final series begin (tentative)
Sept. 22 — Stanley Cup Final begins (tentative)
Oct. 4 — Last possible day of Stanley Cup Final (tentative)

How will seeding work?

Based on points percentages, the top 12 teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences make up the 24-team field. The format awards the top four seeds in each conference a bye past the best-of-five qualifying round.

The Flyers are the East's fourth seed and will compete with the No. 1 Bruins, No. 2 Lightning and No. 3 Capitals in a round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds in the first round. The four teams will play each other once and total points will determine seeds. If there's a tie among points in the round-robin tourney, the NHL will use regular-season points as a tiebreaker.

The playoffs will consist of reseeding after every round instead of a bracket style.

Here are the East's qualifying-round matchups:

No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

Here are the East's seeds by regular-season points percentages entering the qualifiers:

1. Bruins
2. Lightning
3. Capitals
4. Flyers
5. Penguins
6. Hurricanes
7. Islanders
8. Maple Leafs
9. Blue Jackets
10. Panthers
11. Rangers
12. Canadiens


Who will Flyers play in first round? 

So the Flyers' first-round matchup is up in the air. During the round robin, though, they can climb to the East's No. 1 spot and can't slide any lower than their current No. 4 seed heading into the first round. They could see any of the eight teams playing in the qualifying round depending on how those series shake out and how the round robin unfolds.

The Flyers' impressive run prior to the suspension paid off. Before the pause, the Flyers had won nine of their last 10 games and were 19-6-1 since Jan. 8, a stretch in which they were tied with the Bruins for the NHL's most points at 39.

Because of that stretch, the Flyers will avoid the play-in round and a best-of-five situation.

Prior to the stoppage, the Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points) were a point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals and projected to finish with 104 to 105 points, which would have been their most since 2010-11, when they had 106.

“I felt since Day 1 that one of our goals, and I mentioned this to you guys quite a few times, teams have to continue to improve during the season," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said in late April. "You have to get better. I believe that that’s what we were doing in all aspects of our game, our 5-on-5 play, our specialty teams play, our defensive play, our offensive play. We were getting better individually and we were getting better as a group.

"That enables you to get a chance to get into the playoffs and have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. That was our goal coming into the season. That goal hasn’t changed. Obviously there are different components and a different dynamic at this time. I feel real confident that once we find out if we can get back at it, I’m optimistic that we will.

"I think sports is going to be one of the venues that’s going to help people get through this. Once we get back at it, I’m very confident with the focus of our group that we’ll be at the same page as everybody else and it’s going to be our job to work hard, work smart, do the right things and get back to where we were.”

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

Wait, where's Hart? Flyers' goalie exits scrimmage, does not return

• What round-robin schedule change could mean for Flyers' strategy

• What happened? Voracek says calm down, he's fine ... now you know

Key Flyer missing, buzzing rookie, don't forget Ghost and more

• The Flyers' lineup, practicing celebrations, no hiding these two and more

• A 'dangerous card' in the Flyers' hand, Giroux still wows and more

• Fans can purchase Flyers playoff shirts with new slogan

• What it was like to go back to work at Flyers practice in different times

• Juicy opponent for Flyers' exhibition game; some start times announced

• Flyers release training camp roster as they gear up for 24-team tournament

Analyzing the Flyers' schedule to open 24-team tournament

5 questions on Flyers' chances in 24-team tournament

Predictions for Flyers' best Game 1 lineup to start 24-team playoff

Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

• Flyers sign a player to extension at position of strength

What to know as NHL, NHLPA finish big step, announce schedule

Things get even better for Flyers in NHL's 24-team tournament

Finding the Flyers' best 1st-round matchup for Hart

Flyers have two top 50 pending UFAs; will they re-sign them?

Hockey insider details Flyers’ hotel, importance of training camp 

Key dates, protocols announced as Flyers near next steps toward return

NHL playoffs Flyers vs. Canadiens: Previewing 1st-round matchup

NHL playoffs Flyers vs. Canadiens: Previewing 1st-round matchup

The Stanley Cup quarter-finals are just a few days from getting underway. As the round robin and qualifying rounds start to come to a close, the first round has already been solidified for the Flyers after a convincing 4-1 win over the Lightning

The Flyers are set to face the Canadiens following quite a crazy first week of the NHL’s return. 

Let’s take a look at the soon-to-be matchup.

Flyers by the numbers

Goals per game: 3.29 (seventh overall)
Goals allowed per game: 2.77 (tied for seventh fewest)
Power play percentage: 20.8 (14th overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 81.8 (11th overall)

Canadiens by the numbers

Goals per game: 2.93 (19th overall)
Goals allowed per game: 3.10 (13th most)
Power play percentage: 17.1 (22nd overall)
Penalty kill percentage: 78.7 (19th overall)

How they are meeting

There was only one way the Flyers were going to meet the Canadiens in the first round — and a lot needed to happen to make it possible. In a crazy turn of events, the 12th-seed Canadiens knocked out the fifth-seed Penguins in four games in the qualifying round. 

The Flyers also needed to find their way to the No. 1 seed at the end of the round robin tournament. Three games and three wins later, they found themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Even with the round robin and qualifying rounds still going, the first matchup has already been set for the Flyers. 

Why matchup could be favorable for Flyers

On paper, the Flyers coming out on top of this series almost seems like a no-brainer. Comparing the numbers above, the Flyers dominate in every category, but the biggest factor are those goals for and goals against. 

Goaltending

The Flyers’ goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Carter Hart has been dominant with whatever game head coach Alain Vigneault throws at each netminder. While there was some strategy in playing Hart at home and Elliott on the road the majority of the time, it’ll be interesting it see how the tandem plays out. This is probably the best problem a team could have — having two sturdy goalies ready to go. Where a young Hart gets his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this isn’t Elliott’s first rodeo. This will be the veteran goaltender’s eighth trip to the postseason as he has 45 playoff games under his belt — for a netminder, that’s not a bad résumé.

On the opposing end of the ice, the Flyers will be going up against one of the most respected in the game with Carey Price, who has also seen the playoffs on eight separate seasons. This season has been an interesting one for Price though — and an inconsistent one at that. With a 27-25-6 record, it’ll be interesting to see how Price emerges. He certainly put on a show against the Penguins and was one of the main factors for the team's success in that series. Through those four games, Price posted an impressive 1.67 GAA and .947 SV%. 

But the Flyers? Across both goaltenders, Hart having two starts (Bruins and Lightning) and Elliott having one (Capitals), you couldn’t ask for better numbers. Hart is currently maintaining 1.00 GAA and .966 SV%, while Elliott also has 1.00 GAA and .941 SV%. 

If the Flyers shut down Price, it’s over for the Habs. 

Next man up

While the Canadiens wouldn’t have even made the playoffs had the season ended in a normal fashion, the Flyers would’ve been entering the race for the Stanley Cup with a few banged up roster spots. During the mandatory league hiatus, Philippe Myers (right knee patella fracture) and James van Riemsdyk (fractured right index finger), two injured players that would’ve created absences and raised concerns in the winding 13 games of the season, had more than enough time to recover.

The Flyers, unfortunately, are going to be without Michael Raffl for a "little bit." While they are now down a key forward and a staple on the penalty kill, Joel Farabee was the next man up. He found his way back into the roster comfortably and has already earned his first playoff goal and assist. Jakub Voracek was also unavailable to to play against the Lightning, so Connor Bunnaman got to see some playing time as well. For someone who — prior to the 2019-20 season — looked like he was going to be a depth system player for his career, his efforts when getting the opportunity to show what he’s capable of made for an impressive performance.  

Alain Vigneault is going to have some difficult decisions when creating his lines — and for the first time in a long time — it’s not for lack of talent, but rather a surplus. 

Something worth playing for

This has been a season like no other — from the season being suspended in early March to going on a hiatus for nearly five months because of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been difficult. The Flyers also had to handle the news of Oskar Lindblom being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma back in December. It was a statement not a single person would have expected. What was even more unexpected was that just a few months later, Lindblom was officially done with his treatments and now, according to general manager Chuck Fletcher, there’s even a possibility of him traveling to the Toronto bubble with the team. 

It’s a story with a happy ending for a player that rightfully deserves it. His teammates have been playing for Lindblom — when he was around, it was clear the team wanted to do well, he lit up the room and his kindness is something worth fighting for.

The image of captain Claude Giroux handing the Stanley Cup off to Lindblom should be motivation enough for the team. In a year with so much negativity, having a moment like that to look back on could possibly (definitely) make it all worth it. 

Why matchup could be trouble for Flyers

It wasn’t a major issue during the 2019-20 season, but one fear always lingers — one that happened against the Canadiens back in January — is when the Flyers play down to their opponent. In those games, they often sit back on their skates, turtle with a lead or have to play a game of catch-up. This could be a worst-case scenario trap series, given the seeding — and with so many eyes on the surprising Flyers team pushing to make a Cup run, it’s possible they fall into it. 

The Flyers proved that they can battle things out with the top dogs. In fact, it's time to start recognizing the Flyers as a top dog as well. It's hard to ignore, given they now sit on top of the east. After playing three of the top teams in the league consecutively, it’s clear the Flyers have what it takes to see success in their run. It’ll be crucial for them to carry over their mentality and intense play from the round robin — even against the east’s lowest seed in the playoffs.

That’s the one thing about the Stanley Cup playoffs — you never know what could happen. 

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

• No scrimmage for Hart but Flyers' goalie provides important sight

• Analyzing Hart's situation, another Flyer becoming a dad, roster talk and more

Lindblom has new contract, his comeback is on with Flyers

Wait, where's Hart? Flyers' goalie exits scrimmage, does not return

• What round-robin schedule change could mean for Flyers' strategy

• What happened? Voracek says calm down, he's fine ... now you know

Key Flyer missing, buzzing rookie, don't forget Ghost and more

• The Flyers' lineup, practicing celebrations, no hiding these two and more

• A 'dangerous card' in the Flyers' hand, Giroux still wows and more

• Fans can purchase Flyers playoff shirts with new slogan

• What it was like to go back to work at Flyers practice in different times

• Juicy opponent for Flyers' exhibition game; some start times announced

• Flyers release training camp roster as they gear up for 24-team tournament

Analyzing the Flyers' schedule to open 24-team tournament

5 questions on Flyers' chances in 24-team tournament

Predictions for Flyers' best Game 1 lineup to start 24-team playoff

Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

• Elliott has sweet new mask for Flyers' playoff run

• Flyers sign a player to extension at position of strength

What to know as NHL, NHLPA finish big step, announce schedule

Things get even better for Flyers in NHL's 24-team tournament

Finding the Flyers' best 1st-round matchup for Hart

Flyers have two top 50 pending UFAs; will they re-sign them?

• Everything Flyers fans need to know for NHL's 24-team tournament

Hockey insider details Flyers’ hotel, importance of training camp 

Key dates, protocols announced as Flyers near next steps toward return

2020 Stanley Cup odds: Flyers, Golden Knights atop DraftKings

2020 Stanley Cup odds: Flyers, Golden Knights atop DraftKings

Guess who the oddsmakers have atop the leaderboard to take home Lord Stanley’s Cup?

Your No. 1-seeded Flyers!

A week ago, the orange and black had hovered around the sixth-to-eighth-best odds but now a day removed from sweeping the Eastern Conference round robin, the Flyers find themselves along with the Vegas Golden Knights at the top of the tote board at +600 on DraftKings ($100 winning bet pays $600). Pretty impressive drop for the Flyers whose odds peaked to around 40-1 in early February. Overall, the Flyers have odds around 6-1 and 7-1 on most major sportsbooks. FanDuel and PointsBet still have the Lightning ahead of the Flyers on their odds to win the title. 

As for Eastern Conference supremacy per DraftKings, the Flyers are +275 followed by Tampa Bay (+325), Boston (+350), Washington (+650) and Carolina (+750) to round out the top-five contenders. 

Looking ahead to the Flyers' first-round matchup versus 12th-seeded Montreal, DraftKings lists the Flyers as -240 favorites to move on in the postseason ($240 winning bet pays $100). Meanwhile, the Canadiens have odds of +195. Despite Montreal pulling off the upset over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to advance, DraftKings has the Habs at 32-1 to win the Cup and 15-1 to be crowned conference champs. 

The Flyers are hot after outscoring the top three teams in the East by a margin of 11-3. This season, the Flyers went 2-1-0 against Montreal with the two wins coming in overtime. Carter Hart faced the Canadiens only once back on Nov. 7 in a 3-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Hart will be making his first-ever start in a playoff series. 

Former Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price is no small task to overcome. In 30 career regular-season games against the Flyers, he has a .922 save percentage. However, in five career playoff games (2008 and 2010 postseasons), Price is 1-3 (one no-decision) with a .852 save percentage. 

Time will tell if playoff Price versus the Flyers will repeat itself. 

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

• How sweep it is — Flyers run through round robin, earn East's No. 1 seed

Voracek out, JVR back after interesting scratch and more Flyers changes

Don't expect the Flyers to be mingling with their rivals at Hotel X Toronto

Costly injury comes at interesting time, creates more decisions for Flyers

The Flyers were never on a hot streak — they're just that good

• Can the Flyers go all the way? Our Stanley Cup predictions are here

• Picture collage and signs show love for Flyers as they eye Cup run in Toronto

Couturier's goals in NHL bubble: Stanley Cup and an important baby book item

Flyers announce playoff roster, have fans going crazy over shirts

• All types of Flyers odds (including the Cup) in NHL's 24-team tourney

• Scott 'couldn't be happier' with Flyers, but there's more action to be done

Lindblom has new contract, his comeback is on with Flyers

• Flyers-Canadiens is perfect on paper, but would it be a trap?

• What happened? Voracek says calm down, he's fine ... now you know

• Fans can purchase Flyers playoff shirts with new slogan

• What it was like to go back to work at Flyers practice in different times

5 questions on Flyers' chances in 24-team tournament

Predictions for Flyers' best Game 1 lineup to start 24-team playoff

Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

• Elliott has sweet new mask for Flyers' playoff run

• Flyers sign a player to extension at position of strength

What to know as NHL, NHLPA finish big step, announce schedule

Flyers have two top 50 pending UFAs; will they re-sign them?

• Everything Flyers fans need to know for NHL's 24-team tournament

• Bettman gives Gritty the hard truth for why he can't be in Toronto bubble

Key dates, protocols announced as Flyers return