Playoffs Games Format

NHL Hockey Games

CURRENT RULES (first used in 2005-2007)

Format for the 2014 Stanley Cup PlayoffsAt the conclusion of the 2013-14 regular season, the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the four divisions, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the West Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the North Division, it would cross over and compete in the North Division playoffs.

The postseason format will again feature a divisional playoff, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. All rounds will comprise best-of-seven series.

In addition to mandating visors for all players, the only substantive rule change adopted by the AHL at last week’s meeting was that in the event of a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) clearing the puck over the glass from within the defensive zone, except in cases when a minor penalty for delay of game is assessed at the discretion of the referee, the offending team will not be permitted a line change prior to the ensuing faceoff.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 82 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates and for the fifth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2005-06.

The NHL Lockout during the 2004-2005 season created many rule changes above the ice and the gambler was affected by one of those changes. The elimination of ties and the new shootout format to decide games has thus ended the point spread in hockey and instead created the moneyline. Hockey is now like baseball, where you just have to win the game and do not have to worry about covering a spread.

CURRENT RULES (first used in 1998-2003)

Qualifying: Sixteen of 28 NHL teamsqualify for the playoffs. This includes eight teams in both the 15-team Eastern and 13-team Western Conferences. Each conference engages in a playoff to determine its champion, and the conference champions compete for the Stanley Cup.Seeding: Winners of the three divisions within each conference are guaranteed the top three seeds in their respective conferences, ranked according to regular season finish. The next five finishers in each conference are seeded No. 4 through No. 8.

Rounds: There are four playoff rounds. In the first round (conference quarterfinals), the No. 1 seed in each conference faces the No. 8, No. 2 faces No. 7, No. 3 faces No. 6 and No. 4 faces No. 5. In the second round (conference semifinals), the four remaining teams in each conference are re-seeded (based on regular-season finish) with the highest remaining seed playing the lowest remaining seed. The third round (conference finals) determines the conference champions. The final round (Stanley Cup Finals) pits the Eastern Conference champion against the Western Conference Champion.

Series format: All series are a best-of-7 format. The team with “home-ice advantage” is at home for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and on the road for games 3, 4 and 6.

Home-ice advantage: Home-ice advantage is given to the higher seed (based on regular-season finish) in all rounds except the first, when all division winners are assured a seed no lower than No. 3 for that particular round only.

RULES USED FROM 1993-94 to 1997-98

Qualifying:Sixteen of 26 NHL teams qualified for the playoffs. This included eight teams in both the 13-team Eastern and 13-team Western Conferences. Each conference engaged in a playoff to determine its champion, and the conference champions competed for the Stanley Cup.Seeding: Winners of the two divisions within each conference were guaranteed the top two seeds in their respective conferences, ranked according to regular season finish. The next six finishers in each conference were seeded No. 4 through No. 8.

Rounds: There were four playoff rounds. In the first round (conference quarterfinals), the No. 1 seed in each conference faced the No. 8, No. 2 faced No. 7, No. 3 faced No. 6 and No. 4 faced No. 5. In the second round (conference semifinals), the four remaining teams in each conference were re-seeded (based on first-round seeding) with the highest remaining seed playing the lowest remaining seed. The third round (conference finals) determined the conference champions. The final round (Stanley Cup Finals) pitted the Eastern Conference champion against the Western Conference Champion.

Series format: All series were a best-of-7 format. The team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and on the road for games 3, 4 and 6 (also known as a 2-2-1-1-1 format). In 1994, Western Conference games between teams from different divisions were played with one team receiving home ice for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 (also known as a 2-3-2 format). This rule was amended in 1995 so that in such games, the higher seed had the option of using the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 format instead of the 2-3-2 format.

Home-ice advantage: Home-ice advantage was given to the higher seed in the first two rounds, and to the team with the better regular-season record in each of the last two rounds.

RULES USED FROM 1981-82 to 1992-93

Qualifying:Sixteen teams qualified for the playoffs. This included the top four teams in each of four divisions. Division playoffs were held to determine a division champion, and the division winners in each conference played for their respective conference championship. The conference champions competed for the Stanley Cup.Seeding: For the divisional playoffs, teams were seeded 1-4 based on their regular season finish within the division.

Rounds: There were four playoff rounds. In the first round (division semifinals), the No. 1 seed in each division faced the No. 4 seed and No. 2 faced No. 3. In the second round (division finals), the two remaining teams in each division played for the division championship. The third round (conference finals) determined the conference champions. The final round (Stanley Cup Finals) pitted the Prince of Wales Conference champion against the Campbell Conference Champion.

Series format: From 1982 to 1986, the first-round series were a best-of-5 format and the final three rounds a best-of-7 format. Beginning in 1987, all series were a best-of-7 format. The team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and on the road for games 3, 4 and 6 (2-2-1-1-1).

Home-ice advantage: The higher divisional seed received home ice advantage in each of the first two rounds. In the conference finals, the team with the better regular-season record received home-ice advantage. In the Stanley Cup finals, home-ice advantage alternated between the Wales and Campbell Conference champions from 1982 to 1984 and was given to the team with the better regular-season record beginning in 1985.

RULES USED FROM 1979-80 to 1980-81

Qualifying: Sixteen teams qualified for the playoffs. This included the four division winners and the 12 best regular-season finishers who did not win their divisions. All 16 teams were placed in the same pool.Seeding: All teams were given first-round seeds from No. 1 to No. 16. Teams were re-seeded after the first and second rounds.

Rounds: There were four playoff rounds. In the first round, the No. 1 seed faced the No. 16 seed, No. 2 faced No. 15, No. 3 faced No. 14, etc. In the second round (quarterfinals), the teams were re-seeded from 1 to 8 with No. 1 facing No. 8, No. 2 facing No. 7, etc.. The third round (semifinals) the teams were re-seeded from 1 to 4 with No. 1 facing No. 4 and No. 2 facing No. 3. The final round (Stanley Cup Finals) pitted the two remaining teams against one another.

Series format: All first-round series were in a best-of-5 format and the final three rounds a best-of-7 format. In a five game series, the team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1, 2 and 5 and on the road for Games 3 and 4 (2-2-1). In a best-of-7-series, the team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and on the road for games 3, 4 and 6 (2-2-1-1-1).

Home-ice advantage: The team with the better regular season record was always given the home-ice advantage for each round, including the Stanley Cup Finals.

RULES USED FROM 1974-75 to 1978-79

Qualifying: Twelve teams qualified for the playoffs. This included the top three finishers in each division. Division winners were given first-round byes. For the 1978 and 1979 playoffs, this rule was modified so that the top two finishers in each division were given automatic bids and they were joined in the playoffs by four wild-card teams based on regular-season record regardless of division. Division winners continued to receive first-round byes.Seeding: For the first-round series, the eight teams involved were seeded from No. 1 to No. 8 based on regular-season record. The winners were re-seeded in a second-round pool along with the four bye teams, based on regular-season record. The second-round winners were re-seeded for the third round based on regular-season record.

Rounds: There were four playoff rounds. In the first round, the No. 1 seed faced the No. 8 seed, No. 2 faced No. 7, etc. The second round (quarterfinals) included four bye teams that were re-seeded from 1 to 8 along with the four first-round winners. In the third round (semifinals) the teams were re-seeded from 1 to 4 with No. 1 facing No. 4 and No. 2 facing No. 3. The final round (Stanley Cup Finals) pitted the two remaining teams against one another.

Series format: All first-round series were in a best-of-3 format and the final three rounds a best-of-7 format. In a three game series, the team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1 and 3 and on the road for Game 2. In a best-of-7-series, the team with “home-ice advantage” was at home for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and on the road for games 3, 4 and 6 (2-2-1-1-1).

Home-ice advantage: The team with the better regular season record was always given the home-ice advantage for each round, including the Stanley Cup Finals.