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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.

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.