It’s Stanley Cup playoff time...but for real now. The qualifiers and round-robin are over, and after a few wild upsets, the first round of playoffs is set to begin. Bring it on!
The GIST: It’s Stanley Cup playoff time...but for real now. The qualifiers and round-robin are over, and after a few wild upsets, the first round of playoffs is set to begin. Bring it on!
What happened in the qualifiers?: It was Upset City on Friday night, when two of the top teams were
humiliated eliminated. First the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Eastern Conference’s lowest seeded team, the Montreal Canadiens, and then the Edmonton Oilers lost to the West’s bottom feeders, the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The only series to go to a deciding fifth game was last night’s tilt between the Toronto Maple Leafs (who blew a 3–0 lead in Game 3) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (who blew a 3–0 lead in Game 4). The Blue Jackets took Game 5 with a 3–0 win (no blown leads this time) to clinch the final first round spot.
- Don’t feel too bad for the eliminated teams, though. They’re now entered into a lottery to win the first overall draft pick in October’s NHL Draft. Each of the losing teams from the qualifiers have a 12.5% chance of winning the top pick, which will be determined today at 6 p.m. ET.
So what now?: The official first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs featuring 16 teams begins Tuesday. The teams who made it through the qualifiers will face off against the top four teams in each conference, who automatically made it through based on their regular season records.
- While the qualifiers have been keeping us entertained, the top teams have been facing off in a round-robin mini-tournament to decide seeding for the first round. The Philadelphia Flyers shockingly came out on top of the East, meaning they’ll face the Canadiens. And the West’s No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights will take on the Blackhawks.
- Unlike the five-game series of the qualifiers, the first round will go back to the usual best-of-seven series. Check out the full schedule here to keep up with your August hockey (still sounds so weird!).