How Do the Stanley Cup Playoffs Work?

The NHL playoff format consists of 16 teams competing in a traditional bracket-style tournament to determine the Stanley Cup champion.

The playoffs begin with the top three teams from each of the four divisions in the NHL making the postseason, along with two wild card teams from each conference, for a total of eight teams from the Eastern Conference and eight teams from the Western Conference.

Teams are seeded based on their regular season performance, with the top seed in each conference facing the lowest wild card seed, and the second seed (other division winner meeting the higher wild card seed).

The winner of those games meets the winner of the 2 vs. 3 game in each of the four divisions.The first two rounds of the playoffs are played within the division, with the division winners meeting in the Conference Finals.

The winners of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals then face off in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Betting on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Curious about betting on the NHL’s postseason? Check out our guide to betting on hockey.