I’m the dummy here, and I’m actually writing this post more for myself than anything. I read the press release from nhl.com today, and thought to myself “I have no idea what the hell they are talking about”.
I needed to break it down into a hypothetical situation to understand how this new format will work both in the playoffs and in the regular season.
Below is my fake results from the 2013-2014 season. No need to comment on my point allocations. I made it up, with some obvious homer points.
According to nhl.com: 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 will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.
So in my scenario above, the teams highlighted in green text are the 12 auto-playoff spots, the red text are the wild cards. So in Conference Westeros (GAME OF THRONES RULZ!), Division A has five playoff teams, while Division B only has three.
Next and most confusing to me – seeding: The 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 lowest number of 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.
Again, in my scenario the seeding and playoff matchups would be as follows:
- Chicago vs Edmonton
- Vancouver vs Phoenix
- SJ vs LA
- Dallas vs Colorado
- NY Rangers vs Florida
- Montreal vs New Jersey
- Detroit vs Boston
- Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia
I bolded the “winners” of each series to help move along our scenario.
Now is where I started to get REALLY confused: The winners of each series will play for the divisional championship. Does this mean that the next round is based on match-ups of teams within the same division, regardless of seeding?
- LA (Division A, 101 pts) vs Phoenix (Division A, 100 pts)
- Colorado (Division B, 98 pts) vs Chicago (Division B, 112 pts)
- NY Rangers (Division D, 109 pts) vs Philadelphia (Division D, 103 pts)
- Montreal (Division C, 106 pts) vs Boston (Division C, 102 pts)
The next steps are fairly simple: The two divisional champions in each conference will then play in the conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
So in the West, it would be LA vs Chicago and in the East, Montreal vs NY Rangers. With the winners of each series meeting in the Stanley Cup final.
So in the end, no crazy new playoff match ups but many new confusing questions.
Regular Season Schedule
Let’s just focus on Montreal and their potential schedule for next year. According to nhl.com :
Here is what we could potentially see next year for Montreal:
vs Boston (5 Times, 3 at home, 2 away)
vs Detroit (5 times, 2 at home, 3 away)
vs Florida (4 games, 2 home, 2 away)
va Ottawa (4 games, 2 home, 2 away)
vs Buffalo (4 games, 2 home, 2 away)
vs Tampa Bay (4 games, 2 home, 2 away)
vs Toronto (4 games, 2 home, 2 away)
vs NY Rangers (3 games, 2 home, 1 away)
vs Pittsburgh (3 games, 2 home, 1 away)
vs Philidelphia (3 games, 2 home, 1 away)
vs NJ (3 games, 2 home, 1 away)
vs Washington (3 games, 1 home, 2 away)
vs Carolina (3 games, 1 home, 2 away))
vs Columbus (3 games, 1 home, 2 away)
vs NY Islanders (3 games, 1 home, 2 away)
Out of Conference
Two games vs every team. One home, one away.
And with that, I can say without hesitation that I am still confused. Can a pro hockey writer please break it down now??!