The playoffs are the final pitstop when it comes to winning the National Hockey League (NHL) Championship. The whole aim of the playoffs is to win the NHL Stanley Cup, which is the oldest sports prize given in North America. The teams in the battle it out in these playoffs until they reach the finals.
How the Playoffs Work
Not every team that is part of the NHL is eligible to enter into the playoffs. There are two conferences in the NHL, namely Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Only eight teams from each conference are selected to take part in the playoffs. The way the teams from each conference are selected is through a points system. The regular season points are tallied, and the teams ranking from 1st to 8th from a particular conference are chosen to go through to the playoffs.
During the playoffs, four rounds of best of seven are used to determine who gets knocked out and who progresses. How best of seven works is that two teams play against each other, and one team must win four matches. If, let’s say, team A plays against team B and wins four straight games, the rest of the games do not have to be played as team B is knocked out. If there is a tie between the number of games won play is continued to ensure that there is a clear winner.
In the past, the playoffs were conference based which means that eight teams from each conference went through the best of seven to determine who progressed and who got knocked out. From the 2013-2014 season, the NHL returned to the divisional playoffs. Under this system, the top three teams from each season made it to the playoffs.
In the NHL history, there have been some shockers who went on to win the Stanley Cup, for example, the St. Louis Blues that recently won their first championship.