The league could decide to start the Eastern Conference final in Toronto while the Western Conference semifinals finish up in Edmonton. Even when they aren't playing in bubbles, the NHL doesn't usually start one series of a round more than a day or two before the other. In 2015, the two Western teams were done by May 10 but didn't play until May 17, after the Eastern matchup was set.
That being said, everyone wants to keep things moving in the bubble. The NHL was prepared to start this current round staggered. It announced the Colorado-Dallas schedule before two other series were completed.
"I think there's scenarios available of us staying here longer and maybe opening up here," Cooper said, "or jump on a plane and head off to Edmonton, depending what happens."
Is moving to Edmonton a good thing?
The Lightning have created something of a home at Hotel X. They've been in place the whole five weeks. They know the routine. They know where the pickleball courts are.
Edmonton will be new. It could be a good change of scenery after what will probably be 40-plus days in the same place. Maybe moving to a new location will feel like a literal representation of advancing in the playoffs.
"I don't know," Cooper said. "I don't know if there's going to be a mental advantage of traveling or not. The bottom line is, the next team we're playing is doing the same thing."
The Edmonton bubble is a different set-up. The hotel has different amenities, without as many recreation opportunities available (like said pickleball courts). There also isn't a soccer stadium just down the street. BMO Field in Toronto has essentially been adult field day for the teams in Toronto, while those in Edmonton have had to schedule outings to the stadium outside of the city.