Washington Capitals: New 24-team playoff format benefits the team

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The pause was a blessing in disguise for the Washington Capitals.

On Friday night the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement on the Return to Play plan as well as a new CBA for the next four seasons. What this means is that Washington Capitals hockey is coming back very soon.

The league announced a schedule for the Qualifying Round as well as the Round Robin with the Caps slated to play on August 3rd against the Tampa Bay Lightning, August 6th vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and August 8th against the Boston Bruins.

There will be hockey on all day in the month of August. In what is supposed to be the most boring month on the NHL calendar now promises to be the most exciting as we’ve all been starving for the return of sports.

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The game times in Toronto for the Eastern Conference will be noon, 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. Eastern Time while the games in Edmonton for the Western Conference will take place at 2 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The Stanley Cup Qualifiers featuring the 16 teams that are contesting best of five series to determine the eight teams advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs, aka the Qualifying Round will begin on Saturday, Aug. 1 with five games: three in Toronto (Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers, Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins) and two in Edmonton (Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets).

The Stanley Cup Qualifiers featuring the top four teams from each conference to determine seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, otherwise known as the Round Robin, will begin on Sunday, August 2 with two games, one in each hub city: Boston vs. Philadelphia (in Toronto) and Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues (at Edmonton). The Caps will begin the next day.

The best part about where the Caps finished when the season was paused is that they have three games to fine-tune their game before things begin tournament style for them. It’s a position a lot of teams including the Penguins wish they were in.

More. Breaking down the Round Robin schedule. light

The Caps will also face some quality opponents in the Round Robin, preparing them for whatever comes their way in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They won’t have a silly five game series against an opponent that wouldn’t have made the playoffs in the other format to worry about.