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.

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    Video: After blowout loss in Dallas, struggling Sharks off to slow start vs. Predators

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    Last night, we asked: What is wrong with the San Jose Sharks?

    Well, a day later, with the Sharks looking to avoid a sixth straight loss, the struggle continues.

    After a blowout loss last night against the Dallas Stars, the Sharks have fallen behind the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0 after the opening period.

    Colton Sissons opened the scoring for Nashville.

    It didn’t get any better for the Sharks.

    Roman Josi walked right around Brent Burns, hitting the cross bar with his shot. Cody McLeod was right there for the tap-in to increase Nashville’s lead.

    Maple Leafs goalie Andersen suffers upper-body injury vs. Sabres

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    Anxious times right now for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Facing the Buffalo Sabres and looking to extend their winning streak, Curtis McElhinney took over in net for Toronto to begin the second period.

    Adding to the situation was the fact Frederik Andersen, who started the game, was reportedly not on the bench when the teams came back out following the intermission.

    And now we know why. The Leafs have announced Andersen suffered an upper-body injury and will not return.

    Andersen faced 16 shots in the opening period, making 14 saves.

    The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division with 85 points.

    Video: Ovechkin joins elite company with this goal vs. Coyotes


    Barring a miraculous barrage of goals in the final stretch of games, Alex Ovechkin very likely won’t hit the 50-mark this season.

    Now 31 years old, there has been talk that this could be the beginning of the decline for Ovechkin.

    But on Saturday, he scored the 30th goal of his season, letting that famous Ovechkin shot rip from his favorite spot on the power play.

    For Ovechkin, that’s 12 straight seasons with at least 30 goals scored. He has been consistently prolific since joining the league in 2005-06. He’s an elite player, as everyone has known for years, and he once again joined elite company with this latest goal.

    Per the Capitals, Ovechkin joins Mike Gartner and Wayne Gretzky — he was good — as the only three players in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of their first 12 seasons in the league.

    Sharp to undergo hip surgery, expected recovery is 4-5 months

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    Patrick Sharp‘s difficult season is now over.

    The Dallas Stars announced on Saturday that the 35-year-old forward will undergo hip surgery on Tuesday. The recovery time, according to the club, is between four and five months.

    Sharp is in the final year of a five-year contract with a $5.9 million cap hit, per CapFriendly

    “We are going to get the surgery done and let him heal. He’s going to train and let’s take a look at him,” said Stars GM Jim Nill, per “We’ve had conversations. If he comes back, he wants it to be Dallas. He thinks he’s a Dallas Star.”

    Not only has Sharp dealt with injuries on the ice, but he is dealing with a personal matter off it.

    From the Dallas Morning News:

    But in battling through two concussions, hip pain, and his dad’s fight with leukemia, Sharp has shown significant fortitude. The Dallas chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Sharp Saturday as its candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy, given each season to a player who displays the attributes of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

    “It shows what kind of person he is and what kind of hockey player and leader he is,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I think that’s why he’s a winner at every level he’s played at. I think that’s why he’s a great leader for this team and a great guy for a lot of these young guys to look up to.”

    Sharp was first sidelined with a concussion in October. He was then placed on injured reserve with another concussion in December.

    He has been held to just 48 games, with eight goals — his lowest total since the lockout-shortened season — and 18 points.