clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NHL Playoff format: How many teams make the post-season, how many rounds, more

We break down all you need to know about the 2022 NHL Playoff format heading into the post-season.

NHL: Stanley Cup Champion-Tampa Bay Lightning Parade Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are inching closer, with the first round scheduled to start on May 2. Here, we’ll take a look at the NHL’s four-round playoff format.

NHL playoff seeding

In total, 16 teams make the NHL playoffs — eight teams from each conference. Both conferences are made up of two Divisions each (Eastern Conference has the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions; Western Conference has the Central and Pacific Divisions). The top three teams in each division and two wild cards from each conference make the postseason, with standings calculated on points scored. The conference top seed plays the No. 2 wild card and the No. 2 seed plays the No. 1 wild card. The second-place team in each division hosts the third-place division team. Each post-season series consists of a seven-game series.

The NHL currently doesn’t re-seed for the second round, but rather the wild card teams are in a sense “adopted” by the division of the team they play in the first round. So if the No. 2 wild card team from the Eastern Conference beats the Metropolitan Division leader in the first round, they would play the winner of the Metropolitan’s 2-3 series. It’s a little confusing and it needs to change, but it is what it is for now.

The conference finals will feature the remaining two teams from each conference. The winners will play in the Stanley Cup Finals in mid-July. Approaching the playoffs, the Colorado Avalance is favored to win the Stanley Cup on DraftKings Sportsbook with odds installed at +350, closely followed by the Florida Panthers at +550.