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Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL's race to the Stanley Cup begins Saturday, with 24 teams split between two bubbles — one centered around the Toronto Maple Leafs' Scotiabank Arena, the other around the Edmonton Oilers' Rogers Place.

The state of play: Once they reach the conference finals, the two remaining East teams will travel to Edmonton, where their families will be able to join them.

How it works: To whittle the field down to 16, the first nine days will look a little different than normal.

  • Round robin: The top four seeds in each conference will play a three-game round robin to determine seeding.
  • Qualifying round: Nos. 5–12 in each conference will play a best-of-five series to narrow the field to 16 teams.
  • Playoffs: A four-round postseason, with every series a best-of-seven. Teams will be reseeded after each round, instead of using the traditional bracket.
East

Round robin: No. 1 Boston Bruins, No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning, No. 3 Washington Capitals, No. 4 Philadelphia Flyers.

  • Championship odds: The Bruins (12.2%) and Lightning (12.1%) have the best shot at winning it all, per FiveThirtyEight.

Qualifying round:

  • No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens
  • No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers
  • No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers
  • No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets
West

Round robin: No. 1 St. Louis Blues, No. 2 Colorado Avalanche, No. 3 Vegas Golden Knights, No. 4 Dallas Stars.

  • Championship odds: The Avalanche (12.0%) and Blues (8.7%) have the best shot at winning it all, per FiveThirtyEight.

Qualifying round:

  • No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks
  • No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes
  • No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild
  • No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets
Players to watch
  • Leon Draisatl (Oilers): The presumptive favorite for the Hart Trophy (MVP) leads the league in points (13 ahead of teammate Connor McDavid), and he gets to play on his home ice for as long as the Oilers stay alive.
  • Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues): Injuries limited the two-time All-Star to just 10 games, yet the Blues still had the West's best record. Now he's healthy and ready for a deep run.
  • Patrick Marleau (Penguins): The 40-year-old doesn't stuff the stat sheet anymore, but he's still more than just the old guy out for one last hurrah. He's never won the Cup, and this could be his last best shot.

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2020 - Technology

Facebook beats on earnings

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

In earnings for the 2020 third quarter released Thursday, Facebook reported modest user growth but revenue increases that beat Wall Street expectations.

Why it matters: Facebook's business looks resilient and thriving despite — or maybe because of — the pandemic.

Updated 26 mins ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion — aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke — the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.