Montreal Canadiens: Schedule Released For Play-In Series vs Pittsburgh Penguins

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: The Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: The Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens will return to action on August 1. The schedule for their play-in series was just released.

The Montreal Canadiens have officially made the 2020 postseason! Well, not really officially yet, and they certainly couldn’t do it the normal way, but they will be taking part in a play-in series to get into the postseason. And, these stats count toward the 2020 playoffs, so technically, the playoff drought is over!

The NHL has been slowly working towards a Return to Play format that was being negotiated with the Players Union for the past few months. We haven’t seen a hockey game take place since March 11, with the global pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus sweeping the globe.

While details were trickling out here and there for the past few weeks, everything become official tonight.

The players and owners agreed on a memorandum of understanding earlier this week, which was basically the framework of how they will return from the pandemic. Not only did it include this summer’s return to action to crown a 2020 Stanley Cup champion, it came with a full extension to the CBA until 2026. One detail that came out that we weren’t expecting this quick was the schedule.

We had heard rumblings that the teams would be playing back to backs in the play-in series to speed things up and get moving throughout the rounds. This would shave a day or two off every round and crown a champion a week or ten days earlier that a series that had days off between every game.

While everything before tonight was rumour and rumblings and pending approval, it suddenly became official when the players and owners ratified the memorandum of understanding.

With that, we now know that the Montreal Canadiens will begin their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on August 1st. They have a day off between every pair of games except the final two. If the series goes the distance, the Habs and Pens will play Game 4 on August 7th and then decide a winner in Game 5 on August 8th.

After four months of no hockey at all, a five game play-in series in eight days is going to feel like we are moving at warp speed. Especially when you look at all the other series going on at the same time. August 1st and 2nd we have five games each day but every day after that will feature six different games.

Of course, a couple series could end early, but from August 3rd to 5th we are guaranteed to have six playoff (oh sorry, play-in) games per day. Yowza!

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You may also notice that the Canadiens only play the same day as the Toronto Maple Leafs on one day – that being August 7th – when they both play Game 4. The league hasn’t released start times for these games but I’d be willing to bet all of the Habs games will start at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, expect for Game 4 which will like be at 12:00 PM Eastern Time. Although, that is pure speculation at this point, I jus don’t see the Florida Panthers or Carolina Hurricanes getting prime time over the Canadiens for any of these games.