The NHL will begin its round-robin playoffs on July 30. Before then, players will report to training camp June 10 with teams moving to their hub cities on July 23 or 24.
During the restart, rosters will have expanded rosters of 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders. Temas can have 30 skaters and unlimited goaltenders to get ready for the restart.
The NHL and NHLPA are still finalizing details on health protocols. The NHL is planning to have two hub cities for games to go on in, and have narrowed the search down to Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Right now, it is looking like one hub city will be in Canada and one will be in the U.S. pending health protocols.
Hub City Impact
With the NHL narrowing down its hub cities for launch, the locations of games may have an impact on the games. First, there is only one hub city in the Eastern Time Zone. Toronto is looking like the top destination for Canada, but there is still a possibility that the games could be moved to Edmonton.
If Toronto is not chosen for a destination, then all Eastern Conference teams will have to play in a time zone behind. Chicago would be the closest place for Eastern Conference teams to play in relative time zone. However, if Chicago is not possible, and games go to LA, Las Vegas, or Edmonton, then East coast teams will need to adjust.
At the end of the day, NHL teams know they’re playing for a Stanley Cup despite the unprecedented season. Players should adjust to the time zone, but it could take some time before doing so. Fortunately, the NHL announced that teams will move to the hub cities a week before the games start, which will give them more time.
Also, NHL teams will have to get acclimated to living in a hotel for two months. Teams won’t have the ability to go back home during the playoffs unless the team is bounced. NHL teams that continue to advance could face another challenge of isolation in a city far from home. The health protocols are put in place, so the league has the best and safest chance to finish the season. However, other issues might come up because of it.
Betting the NHL Playoffs
With the circumstances the NHL is facing, betting on the sport might have different challenges. Being in hub cities, teams won’t have home-ice advantage, which will level the playing field. This helps a team like the Rangers who would have to travel in three of the best of five series games. However, a team like the Islanders will not have home-ice advantage in the play-in series.
Islanders fans made it a big deal when they had to move from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to the Barclay’s in the 2019 playoffs due to NHL rules. Now, they’ll be playing in a host stadium in front of no fans.
Overall, the changes to the NHL playoffs will add a ripple to the games. According to FanDuel, both the Rangers and Islanders are +4000 to hoist the Stanley Cup. If both New York teams can get acclimated to the new situation, then neutral ice games could help them in the playoffs. However, the road to Lord Stanley isn’t an easy one, and all teams will need to overcome a different playoff schedule.