Question: How does the NHL rank teams for each round of the Stanley Cup playoffs?
The NHL is divided into two conferences. Each conference has three divisions. The first three playoff rounds are played within each conference, with the conference winners meeting in the Stanley Cup Final.
In each conference, first-round playoff match-ups are set as follows:
The three division winners are seeded 1-2-3.
The next five best teams are ranked 4-5-6-7-8, according to total regular season points.
Home-ice is granted to those teams seeded 1-2-3-4.
Teams are matched up using a "top-to-bottom" formula:
#1 vs. #8
#2 vs. #7
#3 vs. #6
#4 vs. #5
In later playoff rounds, teams are re-seeded according to the same criteria as the opening round. Division winners are seeded 1-2-3 for as long as they survive and all other teams line up behind them according to point total. Higher-seeded teams have home-ice advantage.