Per Uncle Bob, the NHL will tentatively begin playoffs on August 1, as long as COVID can be kept under control and Phase 4 of reopening takes place.
If that date doesn’t get pushed back, as previously reported, teams could report to the Hub cities of Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton (Western Conference) on or about July 26 with meaningful games (Phase 4) to begin play on or about Aug. 1.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
Assuming the league does not run into any major issues, teams are expected to report to their hub cities, Toronto for the Lightning and remaining Eastern Conference teams and Edmonton for the Western Conference teams, on July 26. Play would then resume on Aug. 1, Bob McKenzie of TSN reported. With a tentative Aug. 1 date, the NHL is one of the last major sports leagues in Tampa Bay to resume its reason.
Because the playoff bracket is going to involve a top-four round robin to gain seeding to play the bottom-seeded play-in team, every possible Eastern play-in team could potentially play the Lightning in the second round. (For a quick refresher, which I also needed, here’s the current plan.) Because of that, fans of teams like the Flyers are already trying to decide which player could properly kick Tampa’s butt.
Top Five (Philly) Performers against Tampa Bay [Phillysportsnetwork.com]
Because Columbus took us down, they all think they can, eh?
Giroux also will likely show up on most of our top five pieces, which is perfectly okay if you ask me. He has played in 37 games against Tampa, where he registers over a point per game (38 points). His one goal against Tampa, as shown below, could easily bring him to the top spot alone, as he displayed his pure dominance in that play. He may be a -4 against them, but if the captain needs to give a little defensively to put up a point-per-game average, that’s a fair trade off.
NHL, players’ union announce plan to resume play on Aug. 1 [Tampa Bay Times]
The bad news? The cap is flat:
The salary cap will be fixed at $81.5 million (this season’s figure) until hockey-related revenue returns to $4.8 billion (the amount projected for this season before the pandemic). Then the cap will be calculated using a new formula to address the difference between projection and realized revenue.
The good news? Olympics!
The league will make its players available for the 2022 and 2026 Games, pending negotiation with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympics Committee.
How does this benefit Montreal Canadiens’ general manager (GM), Marc Bergevin? A flat cap will hit hard the teams that are against the cap, as most if not all will have key players to re-sign or let go. The obvious target would be defenceman and former Canadiens draft pick, Mikhail Sergachev. While his impact on the PP is only marginally better than Dunn’s, his play at 5v5 and his overall potential is what Bergevin would be paying for. Sergachev could command a bridge deal worth $7 million per season. He would fit one of the Habs’ organizational needs perfectly at the ceiling of what they can afford.
Some late (good news) did come across the wire as the NHLPA’s Executive Board approved the tentative CBA and Return to Play protocols. Now the full membership of the NHLPA will vote on the agreement, a process expected to be completed within 48 hours. [NHLPA Twitter]
Anyway. It’s Wednesday and it really should be Friday, so let’s imagine for a second.
Which playoff matchup would you most like to see in the Eastern Conference second round?
This poll is closed
Finally, the Battle of Florida: Lightning vs. Panthers
Revenge is best served during a pandemic: Lightning vs. Columbus
Best look on Steve Dangle’s face: Bruins vs. Toronto
This could get ugly: Penguins vs. Flyers
I’ll explain below.