NHL starts the play-offs with a new mode
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After a four-month break, the NHL continues its season. However, under completely different circumstances. While the professionals around superstar Leon Draisaitl have to do without a lot, the games are reworked in the media.
Fhockey top star Leon Draisaitl starts the hunt for titles on Saturday. After the Coronavirus interruption, the North American professional league NHL starts up again – and Draisaitl hopes for the Stanley Cup final with his Edmonton Oilers.
After winning the Art Ross Trophy for the best scorer (43 goals and 67 assists) in the preliminary round, the 24-year-old also wants to be honored as the most valuable player in the NHL season (Hart Memorial Trophy) and by the NHL professionals win the selected Ted Lindsay Award.
But before that, the season interrupted on March 12 is continued in two Canadian “bubbles” with strict hygiene guidelines. “I’m personally very happy with the format now,” said Draisaitl. “This plan will create a worthy Stanley Cup champion,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. There is no favorite, as Draisaitl thinks: “Every team that is now there has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.” The defending champions are the St. Louis Blues.
The game takes place in two Canadian cities, the so-called hub cities. The reason: In Canada, the number of coronavirus infections is significantly lower than in the USA. The Eastern Conference teams will play in the Maple Leafs Hall in Toronto.
The Western Conference teams will be chasing goals in Edmonton. The two conference finals and the finals for the Stanley Cup will also take place in the home arena of Draisaitl. All matches take place without spectators.
The 24 best teams are on site. It starts with the knockout round. The four best teams in the east and west after the regular season are already in the first play-off round and fight in a so-called “round robin” (three games, each against each other) for the best placement. The teams between fifth and twelve determine the opponents in a qualification in the best-of-five mode. In the first round, the winner needs the usual four wins (best-of-seven) to advance.
Qualification starts on August 1 with the encounter between the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes (12 noon / local time). The first play-off round begins on August 11th. The second round will take place on August 25, while the conference finals will start on September 8. The first Stanley Cup final will take place on September 22nd. A new champion will be available on October 4th at the latest.
The 24 teams are in a bubble during the tournament. None of the maximum 50 members of a team may leave the hygiene area during the games.
The ice hockey stars are housed in three hotels in Edmonton and two in Toronto, each near the arenas. Bars, restaurants, cinemas and other sports facilities can be found in the respective zones. The professionals will have no contact with the outside world.
The test procedure
The teams are tested daily for the corona virus. Most recently, according to the league, there were no positive results from over 800 players tested between July 18 and 25. If there is a corona case during the games, the actor is immediately isolated.
However, names are not published. Team professionals who make it to the finals will live in isolation from the outside world for almost ten weeks. Family visits are only possible at the conference finals. But: There have hardly been any cancellations so far. All stars are with their teams.
In addition to top star Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) there are also Tobias Rieder (Calgary Flames), Korbinian Holzer (Nashville Predators), Nico Sturm (Minnesota Wild), Tom Kühnhackl and goalkeeper Thomas Greiss (both New York Islanders) and keeper Philipp Grubauer (Colorado Avalanche) in the squad lists.
The DAZN streaming service shows several games live almost every day. Selected games can also be seen on the Pay TV channel Sport1 +. All NHL matches are streamed live via the paid NHL.TV. In the games, 32 cameras (12 more than usual) are to provide a TV highlight.