The 2020 NHL postseason will be unlike any of its predecessors.
The Stanley Cup won't be awarded until late September or early October after the NHL paused its season March 12 due to concerns about the coronavirus. The longest postseason in NHL history begins Saturday with the first three of eight best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier series, as will round-robin series for the top four teams in each of the two conferences. The eight winners in the Qualifiers will join the eight teams that played for seeding in the round-robin for the 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Scotiabank Arena in Toronto will host the Eastern Conference Qualifiers and round-robin, and the first and second rounds. Rogers Place in Edmonton will do the same for the Western Conference, then will host the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
Here are some facts and figures for a one-of-a-kind postseason:
Cup Final in one city: For the first time since 1928, all games in the Stanley Cup Final will be played in the same city, the eighth time in NHL history it will happen but the first since 1928, when the Forum hosted all five games between the New York Rangers and Montreal Maroons. New York's Madison Square Garden was unavailable because the circus was in town.
It will be the second time since the NHL took control of the Cup in 1926 that all games in the Final will be played in one city. In the first nine NHL seasons, when the Cup Final matched teams from the League and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association or Western Hockey League, the same city hosted every game six times.
In all, there have been 15 playoff series played entirely in one city, most recently in 1977 when the New York Islanders swept the Chicago Black Hawks in the best-of-3 Preliminary Round. Both games were played at Nassau Coliseum because of a scheduling conflict at Chicago Stadium.
Neutral-site playoff games return: Another difference this year will be the return of neutral-site games in the playoffs. There hasn't been one played since 1950, when the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings played Games 2 and 3 of the Cup Final at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (the circus again took priority at Madison Square Garden).
The only time a non-Final game was played at a neutral site was 1927, when the Boston Bruins defeated Chicago 6-1 in the opener of their Quarterfinal series -- at Madison Square Garden.
The first six days of the Qualifiers/round-robin will feature multiple games on the same day at Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Place. The only time in NHL history that one city/arena has hosted multiple NHL games on the same day was March 3, 1968, when Madison Square Garden was the site for two regular-season games. The Philadelphia Flyers played the Oakland Seals in New York at 1:30 p.m. ET before the Rangers and Chicago played at 7 p.m. ET, The Flyers were homeless because a snowstorm damaged the roof of the Spectrum.
Homeless champion?: Unless the Toronto Maple Leafs or Edmonton Oilers win the Cup, the NHL will crown its first champion to go without playing a playoff game in its own city. The closest to doing so was the original Ottawa Senators, who played one home game on the way to the Cup in 1921 and again in 1923.
High five for Islanders: The NHL hasn't used the best-of-5 format since 1986. The Montreal Canadiens are the last team to win a best-of-5 series on the way to winning the Cup.
There have been 83 best-of-5 playoff series in NHL history (including series against non-NHL teams). Teams winning the first game are 68-15 (.819).
The Islanders have the best winning percentage among active teams in a best-of-5 series. They've won six of seven (.857) and were 4-0 during their four consecutive Stanley Cup championship seasons from 1980-83. The Islanders are also the only team in NHL history to win a best-of-5 series after losing the first two games. It happened in 1985, when they lost Games 1 and 2 of the Patrick Division Semifinal against the Washington Capitals before winning the next three.
The Oilers lead all teams with five sweeps in a best-of-5 series. They are 0-2 when they don't sweep.
Long break: Excluding instances such as the All-Star break or Olympic break, the longest stretch without games during an NHL season is 12 from March 7-18, 1919. In the modern era, the longest such run was 11 days (April 1-11, 1992). The pause this season was 142 days without regular-season or playoff games between the last day of the regular season (March 11) and first scheduled games of the Qualifiers (Aug. 1).
A player on the Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes, who play in the first Qualifier game Saturday (Noon ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS, MSG, FS-CR) will get credit for the first NHL goal in August. That will leave July as the only month without a goal in an NHL game (regular season or playoffs).
Getting back to back-to-back games: Playing postseason games on consecutive nights used to be common in the NHL, but they've become much less common in recent years. However, there are four such instances in the Qualifiers. One of them is the Islanders and Florida Panthers playing Aug. 4-5. They are the last teams to play on back-to-back nights in the playoffs (April 14-15, 2016).