How Are Stanley Cup Standings Determined?


Quick Answer

The National Hockey League seeds teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs based on the number of points they earned during the regular season. Sixteen teams compete in the four-round playoffs.

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How Are Stanley Cup Standings Determined?
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Full Answer

During the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, eight clubs play within the Eastern and Western Conferences. The best three teams in each of the two divisions in each conference gain berths. The remaining two positions go to "wild card" teams who finished with the most points outside of the first three teams. It is possible, within a conference, for five teams from one division to qualify while the other has only the top three teams.

In each conference, the division winner with the most points plays the wild-card team with the fewest points. The other division winner plays the best wild-card team, while the second- and third-place teams in each division face each other. Each playoff pairing is played in a best-of-seven format. The first team to win four games advances to the next round.

For the 2014-15 Stanley Cup playoffs, the five-three division split occurred in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets, both in the Central Division, had the two best point totals outside of the six automatic qualifiers in the conference and were awarded playoff positions. Winnipeg was swept by the Pacific Division champion and top seed Anaheim Ducks, and Minnesota defeated the Central Division champion St. Louis Blues in the first round.

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