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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    Hartnell’s winner halts Hurricanes comeback attempt

    DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Scott Hartnell #43 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on October 24, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Blue Jackets defeated the Avalanche 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to push the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.

    Hartnell scored in the first period and got the tiebreaker in the third, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a terrible second period to beat the Hurricanes for the second time this week. Carolina has lost three straight.

    Markus Hannikainen also scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for Columbus.

    Sebastian Aho and Justin Faulk scored in the second period for Carolina. Michael Leighton, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Thursday, started in place of Cam Ward and stopped 17 shots.

    Hannikainen poked in the first goal for Columbus 4:49 into the game off a rebound in front of Carolina’s net. The shot through traffic resulted in the first goal and point of the 23-year-old rookie’s NHL career.

    About 10 minutes later, Hartnell got a breakaway and slammed a slap shot past Leighton’s glove from just inside the blue line to put Columbus up 2-0 at the first break.

    “I just tried to bury my head and shoot as hard as I could,” Hartnell said.

    The second period belonged to the Hurricanes.

    Carolina got the first one back on a power play 9:05 in when Aho picked up the loose puck off Jaccob Slavin‘s blocked slap shot and found the net from eight feet out.

    Justin Faulk tied it at 2 when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and snapped off a shot from the right circle that rattled off the bar and in with 4:33 left. Carolina outshot Columbus 9-2 in the period, and Blue Jackets players went to the penalty box four times.

    Hartnell got the winner when he took a pass from Sam Gagner and knocked it in from 13 feet with 9:35 left.

    Carolina pulled the goalie with 2:32 left but couldn’t tie it.

    Video: The Sabres weren’t happy with Emelin after dangerous hit on Moulson

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    Alexei Emelin has once again drawn the ire of opposing players.

    This time, it was the Buffalo Sabres responding to a hit thrown by Emelin, who caught Matt Moulson with a dangerous hit from behind into the boards during the second period of their game on Saturday.

    A massive scrum ensued right over top of Emelin and Moulson along the boards.

    Emelin, who has a history of massive and questionable hits throughout his career (See here, here and here for examples) was given a minor penalty for boarding on the play.

    Video: Simmonds drops the gloves with Wood


    Wayne Simmonds is not only a productive power forward, but he’s one tough customer.

    He showed that again Saturday, dropping the gloves with Miles Wood of the New Jersey Devils during the first period.

    The fight occurred right after Wood drove Radko Gudas hard into the boards on the forecheck. The scrap didn’t last long, however, with Simmonds landing a few shots and then taking the Devils forward to the ice.

    Simmonds was assessed an extra roughing minor.

    We have a (minor league) trade to announce

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Michael Latta #17 of the Los Angeles Kings during a preseason game at Staples Center on September 28, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    The Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings have made a minor league trade on Saturday.

    The Blackhawks acquired forward Michael Latta, who has 113 games of NHL experience with the Washington Capitals, in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

    Latta will report to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, according to the Blackhawks. In 29 games this season with the Ontario Reign, Latta has two goals and six points.

    Schilling, 28, is expected to be assigned to the Reign, the team said in a release.

    In 40 games this season with the IceHogs, Schilling has seven goals and 17 points.