NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule
The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs return this spring, with 16 teams fighting for a shot to lift the best trophy in sports, the coveted Stanley Cup!
The Stanley Cup Playoffs start in April, and typically run until early June. Don’t forget to sign up for SeatGeek to find out exactly when your favorite team will be making their appearance in the NHL playoffs!
Stanley Cup Playoff Format
Since the NHL was founded in the early 1900s, the league has relied on its postseason to determine a champion. Various formats have been employed during that time. In the early days of the league, the top teams from the first and second halves of the regular season would square off for the right to be crowned champion, a format that was soon scrapped in favor of the top two teams from the entire season competing against one another.
Eventually the playoff format saw the infusion of more teams into the mix, as the expansion of the league itself allowed for more competitors to enter the postseason fray. This first came in the form of a three-team tournament, where the top team would receive a bye to the final, with the continued expansion of the league adding more and more teams into the playoffs until a bracketed competition was possible.
Formats for postseason series have also changed over the course of NHL history, with the league using a number of different methods to determine who would advance in each playoff round. In the old days of the league, two teams would square off in a two game series, with total goals being what separated the two teams. That eventually gave way to best-of-three game series, with best-of-five and best-of-seven game series evolving from there.
The NHL Playoffs consist of four rounds, all of which are best-of-seven game series. The top eight teams in the Eastern Conference and top eight teams in the Western Conference compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Seeding is determined by overall record, along with how teams performed within their divisions over the course of the season. The cities and venues that the Stanley Cup Playoffs take place in depend on which teams qualify for the playoffs and which teams earn home ice advantage based on their performances in the regular season.
Best Stanley Cup Playoff Moments
In the history of the NHL Playoffs, there have been many iconic games that will go down as some of the best in the history of the sport. Perhaps the most memorable was the five overtime game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Eventually won on a Keith Primeau goal, players were reported to have been ordering pizzas between overtime periods due to the length of the game.
The 2009 Stanley Cup Final brought an unmatched level of drama as well, as the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins battled to a seventh game to decide the fate of an entire season. Two Max Talbot goals in the second period put the Penguins in front, where they held on despite a third period goal by the Wings that brought on an avalanche of pressure and intensity for the remainder of the game.