New NHL playoff seeding, explained

Confused as to how the new-look NHL postseason works?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

With the league now operating with two eight-team divisions (Atlantic, Metropolitan) in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions (Central, Pacific) in the West, even the most basic mathlete can tell you that something doesn’t add up.

But rest assured, it all does at the end.

How? Well, let’s begin with the basics…

— The top three teams in each division qualify (3×4 = 12). Regardless if it’s a seven- or eight-team division, the top three are in.

—  Two “wild card” teams in each conference (total points, regardless of division) qualify. Divisions don’t matter here. You have the points, you make the dance.

— The division leader in each conference with the most points plays the wild card team with the fewest points.

— The division leader with the second highest amount of points plays the wild card team with the most points.

— The remaining divisional qualifiers meet each other.

To illustrate, let’s do the Eastern Conference playoff picture based on the standings from Monday, Nov. 18:


The opening playoff round would look like this:

Tampa Bay (1st Atlantic) vs Montreal (2nd wild card)

Washington (1st Metro) vs. Detroit (1st wild card)

Boston (2nd Atlantic) vs. Toronto (3rd Atlantic)

Pittsburgh (2nd Metro) vs. NY Rangers (3rd Metro)

The first and second playoff rounds are divisional-based. On that note, it’s important to remember that, if a wild-card team wins in the first round, it will stay in the same division for the second round — even if it crossed over.

So, from the above scenario: If Detroit (Atlantic Division wildcard) beat Metropolitan No. 1 Washington in the opening round, the Red Wings would remain as a Metropolitan Division team and play the winner of Pittsburgh-New York in Round 2.

The two teams advancing from Round 2 — in the East, the Atlantic and Metropolitan champs; in the West, the Central and Pacific Champs — will meet in the Conference Finals.

The winners of each respective Conference Finals will meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

And that’s the new-look NHL playoffs.

Scroll Down For:

    Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

    Niklas Kronwall
    Leave a comment

    When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

    (His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

    It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

    He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

    First, the Kronwalling:

    Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

    It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

    Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

    Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

    Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

    Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

    It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

    To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

    The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

    That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

    They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

    Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


    More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

    In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

    Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

    Jack Eichel
    1 Comment

    The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

    You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

    That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

    Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

    Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


    Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

    While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

    The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?