Re-Alignment for Dummies

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:

WESTEROS:

  • Chicago vs Edmonton
  • Vancouver vs Phoenix
  • SJ vs LA
  • Dallas vs Colorado

EASTEROS

  • 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?

So:

WESTEROS:

  • LA (Division A, 101 pts)  vs Phoenix (Division A, 100 pts)
  • Colorado (Division B, 98 pts)  vs Chicago (Division B, 112 pts)

EASTEROS:

  • NY Rangers (Division D, 109 pts) vs Philadelphia (Division D, 103 pts)
  • Montreal (Division C, 106 pts) vs Boston (Division C, 102 pts)
In the old format, the West would still play out as above, but in the East, it should be NYR vs Boston and Montreal vs Philadelphia…

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:

In-Division

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)

In-Conference

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??!

3 comments for “Re-Alignment for Dummies

  1. December 30, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    The number of wild-card qualifiers was expanded to two per conference in 1978 — the divisional winners were granted a bye week while the wild card teams played (hence the origin of the phrase “Wild-Card Round”). Like wild card teams before, the wild card game winner played the #1 seed, or the #2 seed if they and the #1 seed were divisional rivals. The playoffs were expanded again to three wild cards per conference in 1990 with the lowest ranked divisional winner losing its bye. Following the addition of the Houston Texans in 2002, the league added a fourth division to each conference. The league decided not to change the number of playoff teams, and thus the number of wild card qualifiers was reduced to two per conference.

  2. December 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    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.

  3. transmitterdown
    March 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Wow, what an imprecise explanation from nhl.com. My take is that if both wildcard teams are from the same division, then one is “moving” to the other division for the playoffs. Which of the 2 move is determined by the seeding of the division winners.

    Seriously NHL, just seed the 2 divisional winners and the seed the remaining 6 based on overall record. Weak teams in weak divisions shouldn’t make the playoffs, or worse, be awarded home-ice advantage. Another Bettman scheme to get playoff hockey to weak US markets??

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