How the Stanley Cup Playoffs Work

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The playoffs are the most exciting time in any sport, where the season’s hard work comes down to the wire. But let’s be honest, the flow of the playoffs is not always easy to understand, especially if you divide your attention betwixt multiple sports. Let us clarify the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the most high-stakes time professional hockey teams will spend on the ice.

What Teams Make the NHL Playoffs?

The Stanley Cup Playoff race begins with 16 teams total, eight from each conference. The teams in the National Hockey League are sprinkled across four divisions based on location:

Western Conference

  1. Pacific Division
  2. Central Division

Eastern Conference

  1. Metropolitan Division
  2. Atlantic Division

The top three teams in each division automatically secure a coveted trip to the playoffs. The remaining two spots are reserved for wild card teams, or the two remaining teams with the most regular-season points, regardless of conference or division. All rounds are modeled as a best-of-seven series.

NHL Playoffs Round 1 (Conference Quarterfinals)

The puck dropped on the opening round this season on April 12th. Here’s how the matchups are decided:

  1. The division leader with the most points in their respective conference faces the wild card team with the least points.
  2. The division leader in that same conference (think of them as the #2 team) will take on the wild card team with the most points.
  3. The second-place team in each division will host the third-place team in their division.

Each team that wins four games in a best-of-seven series will advance to the second round, leaving eight teams with their eye on the prize.

NHL Playoffs Round 2 (Conference Semifinals)

The eight remaining teams will compete bracket-style to try to advance to the Conference Finals. Home-ice advantage in this round is awarded to the teams with the best regular-season standings. Four teams will emerge victorious and prepared to compete for their Conference Title and a chance to hoist Lord Stanley.

NHL Playoffs Round 3 (Conference Finals)

Then there were four. Two teams from each conference are left standing heading into this round, which is hosted by the team with the better regular-season record regardless of standing. These teams will face off with the hopes of being crowned conference champions. The crown is presented in the form of a coveted spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup Finals

During the big finale, the one remaining team from each conference will go head-to-head for the ultimate glory. The shiny silver Stanley Cup trophy is a symbol and honor awarded to the best team in the National Hockey League that season.

Stanley Cup Playoff Suites

The playoff system may be slightly confusing, but the entertainment value of booking a Stanley Cup Playoff suite is a no-brainer. A venture reserved for your most valuable guests, the playoffs feature unwavering passion and unmatched excitement. It’s an experience potential clients and crucial customers won’t soon forget. While the announcement of matchups generally requires a quick turnaround, we’re guessing your invitees will make room in their schedules. To book an NHL playoff suite, contact us at 1-888-SuiteHop or

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