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The New NHL Realignment and Playoffs

My goal in publishing this article is to get you to understand the NHLs new realignments and playoff rules.  There are 4 divisions and 2 conferences.  A better way to think of it is that a division represents a specific region of America such as the Northeast, etc.  The actual divisions are named:  Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific.  The Atlantic encompasses New England, Michigan, parts of Canada, and Florida.  Not sure how two Florida teams got in there.  LOL! The Metropolitan encompasses Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Carolina.  This makes sense, although Carolina could make a strong case for the Central aka Midwest/Southern Division.  The Central encompasses Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, Dallas, Tennessee, and part of Canada.  The Pacific, as it is correctly named, encompasses the west coast of California, Arizona, and western section of Canada. A conference; however, represent a specific area such as North, South, East, and West.  For the sake of argument, hockey only has East and West conferences.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will consist of 16 teams, eight in each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added.  The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It is possible for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.

Seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second-fewest points.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. There is no reseeding as the tournament moves to the second round and winners of that series advance to the conference championship series and the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final.

Still confused?  Well, I have the current rankings below.  If the playoffs were today, the following teams below would make the playoffs.  Since the Penguins will be a divisional winner, they will play a wild card winner with the fewest points.  The fewest points right now are 80.  So, hypothetically, the Penguins could play: Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, or the Washington Capitals.


  1.  Boston Bruins
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Montréal Canadiens
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning
  5. New York Rangers
  6. Philadelphia Flyers
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Detroit Red Wings


  1.  St. Louis Blues
  2. San Jose Sharks
  3. Anaheim Ducks
  4. Chicago Blackhawks
  5. Colorado Avalanche
  6. Los Angeles Kings
  7. Minnesota Wild
  8. Phoenix Coyotes

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