More than half the NHL season is over and it is time to really focus on playoff positioning. Here is a look at some NHL playoff scenarios in the Eastern Conference.
Eastern Conference Teams
There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference broken up into two divisions, which are the Atlantic and Metropolitan. Each division has eight teams. Only eight teams will make the playoffs. How this works is the top three teams in each division are ranked one, two and three based on their points. Then, the two best teams after that are placed in the Wild Card spots.
As of right now, the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins are the top three teams in the Metro Division. The Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the top three in the Atlantic. Standing in the last two spots are the Wild Card teams who are currently the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins. If the playoffs were to start right now, the teams mentioned would be making their run into the playoffs.
Importance of Ranking
Why is it so important to be a higher-ranked team? Well, having a home-ice advantage and playing a lower-seeded team are a few of them.
As it currently stands, it would be Panthers vs the Bruins, Lightning vs the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes vs the Capitals and Rangers vs the Penguins. The format is that the top seed in each division plays the Wild Card teams. The division leader with the most points would play the Wild Card team with the least points. The second and third seeds in each division face each other. All this occurs in the first round of the playoffs.
What to look for in the Remaining Games
The remaining games are very important because several teams are vying for either playoff spots or rank. How many games a team has is important too. For example, the Hurricanes have played 44 games, while the Capitals have played 48. This is a four-game difference and positioning can come down to the last game of the season.
For the Rangers, Penguins and Hurricanes it is more important since they are the top three teams. All three of these teams are only a point apart, but every point counts. Both the Rangers and the Penguins have to make sure they win as much as possible in order to take the Metro Division away from the Hurricanes. The Rangers and Penguins each have played 47 games, three more than the Hurricanes.
It is going to come down to the final game for some of these teams, maybe even all. It has happened so many times that some teams have to rely on other teams’ success or failure in order to salvage a spot in the playoffs. These last two and a half months will be rather interesting. The regular season’s end will be a nail-biter for many people as their team fights for a spot, fights for positioning or even fight to save their own spot.
What will the last day of this season look like in the NHL? April 29, 2022 will be the last day of the regular season. Will the current teams mentioned be the ones to advance, or will a team come out of the blue and pull off the unexpected? All questions will be answered. April 29th will be here soon enough.
Featured Image Courtesy of Shawn P. Roarke from nhl.com
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