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As teams typically prepare to close out their regular season, where you land in seeding plays a huge factor in the first round of the playoffs – mainly due to home ice advantage. 

After a season that ended in the most unconventional way, we fast forward to how the NHL adapted to the situation and managed to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs. With 24 teams and two bubble cities, the battle officially commenced Saturday Aug. 1. 

With 12 teams in each bubble and only one rink to share, that element of home ice advantage has essentially disappeared. With no fans and a small level of comfortability within the rinks, it’s just about as even of a playing field that you can get. 

Take the Leafs and Oilers – the only two teams with the opportunity to play on their own ice. While the Oilers pulled out a win Monday night, it has been the only victory for these teams in their respective bubbles. 

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shared his thoughts on this in an interview with NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh:

Marginally, I mean obviously the home team designation gives you last change, but beyond that I think once you get on the ice and you’re playing a playoff game, you’re not focused on anything else but what’s taking place right before you in the game.

Aside from still having that last change, things are pretty evenly matched. Goal horns and songs are played for both teams and logos for each are spread throughout the numerous screens in the arena. It’s just two teams with the same mission – to win the whole thing. 

There’s not much better than that. 

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