Following a second round of divisional play, the four survivors will compete in the Cup semifinals and finals. The playoffs are best-of-seven games in all four rounds. In each series, the club with the higher regular-season record gets to play four of the seven games at home. If the teams are tied after seven games, then a tiebreaker game is played using either a five-game series or a maximum 10-minute overtime period (whichever comes first).
The winner of the Cup final moves on to the next year's Hall of Fame class while the loser goes home.
The NHL playoffs start early in the spring when most other sports are over. Games begin as soon as two weeks after the end of the regular season and go through the weekend. The entire postseason lasts about two months from start to finish.
There are two ways for a team to get into the playoffs: via the draft or via the qualifying round. Every year, several teams don't make the cut as they have too many players under contract. These "wild cards" can be any combination of players who don't meet the minimum requirements set by the league for contract status. For example, a team could have three players who have played less than 50 games this season and still qualify because they have less than half of their roster made up of contracted players.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are made up of four best-of-seven series. Each series is played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, which means that the home team hosts games one, two, five, and seven, while the opponent hosts games three, four, and six. This ensures that each team gets a chance to rest its players for the final series.
In addition, the first two games of each series are held at the higher-seeded team's venue if they are still in contention. If they are not, then the lower-seeded team gets to choose the site of game 3. The same thing happens in game 4 if both teams are still in the playoff race—they can either travel back to their original arena or pick another site if they want to play for home-court advantage.
Finally, if a team wins three in a row after being down 0-2, then they get to choose where the next three games will be played. This system allows teams who are behind in the series to come back from a 2-0 deficit by choosing where games 5, 6, and 7 will be played. Conversely, if a team starts off with three straight losses, then the other team gets to decide where games 3, 4, and 5 will be held.
The top four clubs from each of the league's four divisions will advance, with the top seed facing the fourth seed and the second seed facing the third seed in the first round. The winner of the Cup series is crowned champion.
Each team plays approximately 48 games during the regular season, with at least one game against every other club within their division. The remaining two games are played against clubs from either of the other three divisions. At the end of the season, the club with the most points is declared the division champion and advances to the next round. If there is a tie for the division championship, a tiebreaker procedure is used to determine who moves on to the next round.
The winner of its division qualifies for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin as soon as one month after the end of the regular season. Teams that finish below fourth place in their division cannot be assured of making the postseason; however, they may obtain an "assurance spot" by finishing no worse than second-to-last in their conference. If any team finishes with a negative goal differential, it is eliminated from contention immediately. Otherwise, the assurance spot would go to the team with the highest percentage of goals scored versus the total number of goals scored across the entire league.
Format. Games five, six, and seven are only played if they are required. If necessary, game seven goes into overtime, then a shootout occurs to determine a winner.
If you're looking to catch some hockey this spring/summer, check out our guide to where to watch games live and on TV. You won't be disappointed!
The first round starts on April 13 and ends on May 31. The second round begins on June 7 and ends on June 21. The third round starts on July 4 and ends on August 1. And the final round starts on August 26 and ends on September 16.
In each round, the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed with the exception of the first round, where the top overall seed plays the lowest overall seed. The last remaining seed plays the winner of the first-round match-up between the higher-ranked teams. There is no cross-over between rounds.
All series are played under a best-of-seven format. A series can be decided in as few as three games or as many as seven.
The top four clubs in each division qualified for the playoffs, with the first two rounds taking place exclusively inside each division. In the second round, the winners of each series within the division will square off. Each of the four subsequent series' winners will proceed to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team that wins three games out of four receives $1 million.
In addition to the four playoff teams, one additional team is granted a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. The "wild card" is the name given to the last remaining team out of the entire league who has not yet qualified for the playoffs. If a wild card club is still in the race for a spot at the end of their respective seasons, they will carry over their record from previous games. However, if they fall out of the race before the end of their season, they are eliminated and a new team will be granted the wild card position for the next season.
Teams are awarded home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. This means that if a series is tied 3-3 after five games, the team that earned home ice will receive a bonus game. A shootout will be held if the series remains tied.
There is no limit on the number of times a team can win the Stanley Cup. The Chicago Blackhawks have won the most championships with nine, followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins with eight.
At the conclusion of the regular season, sixteen teams qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, an elimination competition consisting of three rounds of best-of-seven series to decide which club from each conference will proceed to the Stanley Cup Final. The entire process takes about six weeks.
The number of games in a single playoff round varies depending on the number of participating teams. For example, if the top seed is scheduled to play against the 16th seed, they would play a best-of-seven series with each game being worth 2 points for 1st place and 1 point for 2nd place. A winner is determined by total points after all matches have been played. If any match remains tied at the end of seven games, then a tiebreaker game may be played using various criteria to determine a winner. For example, if both teams are equal in overall win/loss record, the team that has scored the most goals over the course of the series will usually prevail. If both teams have scored the same number of goals, then the team that has allowed the fewest goals will usually win.
In 2016, each of the three rounds of the playoffs will consist of four games per series. This makes for 48 total games in all, plus one or two more if necessary. The longest playoff run in history was made by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-11.