When the NHL returns Aug. 1 with its 24-team Return To Play tournament format fans will turn to their regional networks to watch games, according to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.
For Blackhawks fans this means watching Chicago, the No. 12 seed, play a best-of-five qualifier series against the No. 5 seed Oilers on NBC Sports Chicago. The top four teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences will play in a round robin for seeding purposes. If the Blackhawks defeat the Oilers, they’ll play the West’s top seed in the first round of the playoffs.
“Discussions are ongoing this week about how many of those games will be shown nationally on NBCSN. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Oilers Nation that the daily schedule will be ‘very much like the Olympic tournament, with three games a day and start times will be 12 p.m. (noon), 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. locally,” Wyshynski added.
The qualifier games will have playoff overtime rules where games will continue until one team scores in overtime, while the round robin games could be decided in a shootout if the score is tied after overtime.
The games will rotate from Toronto (Eastern time) and Edmonton (Mountain time) with a two-hour time difference.
Game 1: 11 a.m. (East)
Game 2: 1 p.m. (West)
Game 3: 3:30 p.m. (East)
Game 4: 5:30 p.m. (West)
Game 5: 8 p.m. (East)
Game 6: 10 p.m. (West)
Teams are expected to start training camps July 13 for Phase 3 of the League’s four-part Return To Play plan. Teams will would then report to hub cities on July 26 with games starting Aug. 1.