The National Hockey League has released the schedule for Phase 4 of their Return To Play plan. If you’re a bit flummoxed by the swamping of your Twitter timeline with multiple sets of tweets, graphics, and details, don’t worry. Here’s a quick breakdown of the first games the NHL, and specifically the Dallas Stars, will play in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The league has scheduled 12 exhibition games to air from July 28 to 30. These matches don’t count for seeding and have no bearing on standings or prospective matchups after the qualifying round. Similar to the Global Series, these games are purely for fun — and will also serve the purpose of getting players back into the cadence of 90 minutes of hockey before the playoffs begin.
The exhibition games are kept within the divisions, meaning that historic and new rivals alike get another go-round and fans get to dust off their chirping skills ahead of the playoffs. The league front-loaded the more well-known rivalries for July 28, which will make for an entertaining afternoon and evening of gritty, scrappy hockey. Most of the Central Division matchups will occur on the second day, July 29.
The Dallas Stars will play out their exhibition game against — you guessed it — the Nashville Predators on Thursday, July 30. Puck drop will be at 2 p.m. Central. Will the tenacity on the ice rival that of the Winter Classic? Fans will find out in just about two weeks.
Details on broadcasting stations will be announced closer to the exhibition games.
Round Robin Games
The qualification round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is slated to begin on Saturday, August 1. Top-four seed teams will face each other while all other teams will play out a best-of-five qualification series. The winners of the qualification series will go on to face the top-four seeded teams, while the defeated teams will find themselves with a slightly longer offseason ahead of the 2020-21 season. Beginning at 10 a.m. Central daily on August 1, fans will be able to watch five playoff games each day during this stage of the playoffs.
The Stars will play a total of three seeding games at the beginning of August. Dallas will play their first seeding game on Monday, August 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights. The game is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Central. They will then face the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, August 5 at 5:30 p.m. Central. Though time is yet to be determined, the Stars will face their third and final seeding opponent — the St. Louis Blues — on Saturday, August 9. The results of these games among the top-seed teams will be part of the equation determining which team from the qualifying round each seed will play in the next round of the playoffs.
As with the exhibition games, broadcast details have yet to be announced.
Additionally, the NHL has announced the start times for two of our three round-robin games in Edmonton:— x-Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 14, 2020
➖ Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Vegas: 5:30 p.m.
➖ Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. Colorado: 5:30 p.m.
➖ Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. St. Louis: TBD#GoStars pic.twitter.com/ezegq8RdGP
Start the countdown, Stars fans, hockey is coming back.