The NHL has announced the schedule of games for the its pandemic-era summer qualifying round and playoffs. So now we know when the New York Islanders will play the Florida Panthers for the right to join the regular 16-team, four-round summer Stanley Cup playoff tourney.
But first: Exhibition game(s)!
We know there will be an exhibition game against the Rangers on July 29...in prime time:
The games that matter will be a bit different, however. Here is the qualifying round schedule. The Islanders’ first game is on a Saturday afternoon, while others are on weekdays at midday. Of course.
Broadcast schedules are to be announced soon. I know that I have personally been working 24/7 from remote conditions since the pandemic began, so I don’t mind pausing to watch playoff (sorry: play-in) hockey no matter the time of day.
The NHL hasn’t had best-of-five series since 1985-86, the last year where first-round, division semifinals were held in five-game formats (the Islanders were swept 3-0 by the Capitals) before the next three rounds were best-of-seven.
So this is going to be weird. Thankfully John Tonelli is back on good terms with the franchise, so we got this.