The end of the regular season is quickly approaching. With only six regular season games remaining for the New York Rangers, the team finds every point counting more and more. This #AskAllison will focus on how the new NHL playoff format affects teams and how the teams become qualified for the post season. The new four division format was introduced this year, and the game bracket pairings are a little different from previous years.
The 2013-2014 season is the first season in which the National Hockey League has divided the Eastern and Western conferences into four total divisions named Pacific, Central, Metropolitan and Atlantic. The Western Conference divisions both have seven teams each, where the Eastern Conference divisions have eight teams apiece. The top three teams from each division with the highest points for the season go to playoffs.
Doing the math correctly, seven of the 16 teams allowed to go to the playoffs this season have already been decided based on standings. In the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins have secured their place at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Pittsburgh Penguins have also secured their spot at the top of the Metropolitan Division. The Western Conference has yet to have their champion emerge, though five teams have secured playoff berths. The St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Chicago Blackhawks are all guaranteed a post season appearance from the Central Division. The Pacific Division will send the Anaheim Ducks and San José Sharks to the post season for certain; the Los Angeles Kings have not made the last mathematical elimination possible just yet. The last four teams moving forward to playoffs are chosen through the wild card system, which is the new addition to the National Hockey League post season qualification this year. The wild card spots are given to the next two teams from each conference with the most points but not in the top three in their division.
The teams are matched in a typical bracket style situation, with the number one team in the conference, or the team with the most points, playing the wild card team with the least number of points, while the second team in the conference with the highest points plays the second wild card team, and so forth. Each division’s second and third seeds play each other in the first round of playoffs.
What does this mean for the Rangers? Well if the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers continue to battle for second and third place in the Metropolitan Division, the first round of the 2014 playoffs could very likely see these two teams pitted against each other to see who continues to battle for the Stanley Cup.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you for now folks! May the Rangers have a great finish to the regular season, and make a great run for the Cup! Keep Warm, Enjoy your family, and LETS GO RANGERS!!!