Ah, it’s finally here. The National Hockey League (NHL) resumes and playoffs are in plans to start. It may just end up being worth the wait as there’s not much that sounds better than sitting in the pool with a refreshment, with some burgers on the grill and watching some intense playoff hockey on TV.

For us adult leaguers, the news of this new playoff format is definitely confusing. So we thought we’d break it down and put it in layman’s terms. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect this coming August? September? IOctober? Well, whenever they start games up again.

Playoff Format

  • 24 team playoff
  • Based on top 12 teams in each conference (Point% from regular season)
  • Top 4 teams in each conference will play an intra-conference round robin to determine the Round 1 seeding
  • The top 4 teams in each conference are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East, and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West
  • The remaining eight teams will play a best of 5 Qualifying Round Series, where the winners of each series would be matched up against one the top 4 conference teams, depending on how the top 4 was seeded in their round robin

The Qualifying Round Series would look like this:

Eastern Conference:

  • (5) Pittsburgh vs. (12) Montreal
  • (6) Carolina vs. (11) Rangers
  • (7) Islanders vs. (10) Florida
  • (8) Toronto vs. (9) Columbus

Western Conference

  • (5) Edmonton vs. (12) Chicago
  • (6) Nashville vs. (11) Arizona
  • (7) Vancouver vs. (10) Minnesota
  • (8) Calgary vs. (9) Winnipeg

For simplicity here’s a diagram of how the first rounds would look.

The winners of these match-ups would advance to the official first round of the playoffs, and the series would continue like any other year of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Let’s reflect:

  • Teams on the cusp of a playoff appearance get an opportunity to play even if they didn’t necessarily deserve to
  • The stronger teams who weren’t in the top 4 of their conference, do get a matchup that would reflect any other year, as they will play a weaker seeded team
  • For the top 4 teams, they do get an opportunity to get some practice games in before stepping into a do-or-die series. And even if they perform poorly, will still be matched up against a lower seed

This playoff format is in no way perfect, however based on the fact we couldn’t see how the remaining games would have played out, it seems half decent. Let us know what you think, and how would you have structured it differently?