The Explainer: New NHL playoff seeding format
Top 3 teams in each division gain berths, plus 2 wild cards
Now that everyone (well, mostly everyone) is over the shock of new NHL division names, it may be a good time to look beyond the cover of this NHL realignment book to see what it actually means in terms of playoff implications.
Gone is the simple format that sees the top eight teams in each conference gain Stanley Cup playoff spots. Now, there are 16 teams on one side, 14 on the other and 16 playoff spots to divvy up.
This is how the teams would be seeded in their new divisions based on last year's performance. Because they'll play out-of -conference games this season, comparisons to last season are fairly inapplicable. This is purely a mock-up to illustrate what could happen in the upcoming campaign, not an exercise of “what-if.”
1. Z- Pittsburgh
2. Z - Washington
3. Z - NY Rangers
4. NY Islanders (55 points)
7. New Jersey
- Z- Montreal
- Z - Boston
- Z - Toronto
- X - Detroit (56 points)
- X- Ottawa (56 points)
- Tampa Bay
- Z - Chicago
- Z - St. Louis
- Z -Minnesota
- X - Winnipeg (51 points, 22 ROW)
- Z - Anaheim
- Z - Vancouver
- Z - Los Angeles
- X - San Jose (57)
- Phoenix (51 points, 17 ROW)
Z – These teams are the top three seeds in their division, and gain automatic entry into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
X – Wild card teams are the teams outside of the top three in their division, chosen because they have with the next highest point totals, regardless of the division. Three seeds can come from one division and five from another.
- 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
3 & 4 – the second and third seeds in each division face one another in the first round.
This is what the first round would’ve looked like had realignment happened a year earlier:
- Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa
- Montreal vs. Detroit
- Washington vs. NY Rangers
- Boston vs. Toronto
- Chicago vs. Winnipeg
- Anaheim v. San Jose
- St. Louis vs. Minnesota
- Vancouver vs. Los Angeles
So that’s what the 2013 playoffs would have started out like had realignment occurred a year earlier, and those teams managed to keep the same records despite facing new divisional opponents.
What do you think of the new seeding system? Is it perfect? Is it flawed? Let us know in the comments and have your say!