blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Playoff Seeding And Re-Seeding Rules

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NHL Playoff Seeding And Re-Seeding Rules

With the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, the list of Stanley Cup suitors has officially been halved from sixteen teams to a remaining eight. The next question is who plays who in the next round, and why.

The NHL relies on reseeding to pair opponents beyond the postseason's preliminary round. This process sets top teams in each divisional bracket against bottom dwellers and matches middlemen against each other. Winners from each of the four divisional brackets battle in their respective Conference Final, with victors skating in the Stanley Cup Final.

Home ice advantage in each best-of-seven series belongs to the team with the most regular season points. When teams have the same number of regular season points, tiebreaker rules are employed.

The beauty of reseeding is it rewards regular season strength. Underdogs never shed their skin, forced to play through higher finishing teams to advance, whereas top dogs always enjoy an extra game at home. In short, regular season records position playoff teams back where they belong.

So yes, the regular season does count for something.

* See also NHL Tiebreaker Rules and Playoff Seeding.