NHL playoff format: Realignment changes postseason system

Christian Petersen

The NHL will be realigning for the 2013-14 regular season. With that change comes an adjustment to the postseason format.

The 2013-14 NHL regular season will feature a division realignment that will split the Eastern Conference into two eight-team divisions and the Western Conference into two seven-team divisions. This brought about a rebranding of the groupings, which will amount to an Atlantic, Central, Pacific and Metropolitan division.

In turn, the league will reconfigure its playoff formatting as well. Under this new system, the top three teams in each division will earn an automatic bid to the postseason. Each conference will be allotted two wild card playoff spots, which will be distributed to the two teams who had the highest point totals amongst non-playoff qualifying teams, regardless of division. The wild card teams will be matched against the teams with the highest points.

This will result in the following formatting per conference:

Atlantic Division

*No. 1 seed in division vs. Wild Card team
*No. 2 seed in division vs. No. 3 seed in division

Metropolitan Division

*No. 1 seed in division vs. Wild Card team
*No. 2 seed in division vs. No. 3 seed in division

The winners of those series will face each other for the division championship. The two division champions will then compete for the conference championship and the right to battle for the Stanley Cup against the winner of the opposing conference.

The 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, April 16.

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