The NHL announced plans to resume its season, which has been on pause since March 12.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the regular season is over and hopes to resume with a 24-team playoff. The goal is to start “Phase 2” in June, which would allow players to return to practice facilities for small-group activities.
However, the NHL’s plans hinge on medical experts’ input, governing authorities’ permission, COVID-19 conditions, and testing ability.
NHL season plans and hockey in PA
Should plans progress, the tournament will begin sometime in late July with a 16-team, eight-series qualifying round and a round-robin competition among the top four teams in each conference to determine seeding for the first round.
Pittsburgh is being considered as a hub city for Eastern Conference games that are expected to be played with no fans.
On Tuesday afternoon, not all Pennsylvania online sportsbooks offered NHL markets. But after the league announced a return-to-play plan, and betting lines were back up. The Boston Bruins (+600) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (+600) have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup.
The Philadelphia Flyers odds reflect the advantage of the first-round bye. Their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, went into the pause in play on a losing skid, and it cost them a first-round bye.
Pittsburgh Penguins return-to-play update
Record: 40-23-6, 86 points. Fifth in Eastern Conference
Leading scorer: Evgeni Malkin (25 goals, 49 assists, 74 points)
Injuries: Zachary Aston-Reese (lower body), Nick Bjugstad (lower body), and Dominik Simon (upper body) were considered week to week when play halted and will be ready to play. Jake Guentzel had shoulder injury on Dec. 31 and was slated to miss four to six months. He is expected to be back in the Penguins’ lineup if play resumes.
Before the pause: The Penguins lost eight of 11 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins return-to-play scenario: Since they did not finish in the top four teams in the conference, eight teams will be seeded by points percentage. The Penguins will play the Montreal Canadians in a best-of-five series in the qualifying round. These games will be played with playoff overtime rules.
Philadelphia Flyers return-to-play update
Record: 41-21-7 (89 points). Fourth in Eastern Conference
Leading scorer: Travis Konecky (24 goals, 37 assists, 61 points)
Injuries: Oskar Lindblom (illness) and Samuel Morin (knee) out for the season. Players who were out but should benefit from the long break and be able to return: Phillippe Myers (knee), Nolan Patrick (migraines), Nate Thompson (knee), James van Riemsdyk (hand)
Before the pause: The Flyers won nine of their previous 10 games.
Philadelphia Flyers return-to-play scenario: The Flyers clinched a playoff spot. Since they are in the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, they will get a first-round bye and will not play in the eight-team qualification round before the start of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Instead, the Flyers will play a round-robin for seeding (they will not be any lower than a four seed). The seedings will depend on a three-game round-robin where the Flyers play the other top three teams in the East (Boston, Washington, and Tampa Bay).
Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup odds
PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers are offering a house special: Flyers or Penguins or Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup (+225).
Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup odds at PA online sportsbooks:
- FanDuel: +1800
- DraftKings: +1,700
- Unibet: +1,700
- BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse: +1,700
Eastern Conference winner odds:
- Unibet: +800
- BetRivers/PlaySugarhouse: +800
Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup odds
Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup odds at PA online sportsbooks:
- FanDuel: +850
- DraftKings: +1,000
- Unibet: +1,000
- BetRivers/PlaySugarhouse: +1,000
Eastern Conference winner
- Unibet: +500
- BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse: +500