16 teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The format is a set bracket that is largely division-based with wild cards. The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season record and regardless of division.
It is possible for one division in each conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three. In the First Round, the division winner with the best record in each conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other division winner.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will meet in the First Round within the bracket headed by their respective division winners. First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round to determine the four participants in the Conference Finals.
Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the team that placed higher in the regular-season standings. In the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, home-ice advantage goes to the team that had the better regular-season record – regardless of the teams’ final standing in their respective divisions.
If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order:
- The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
- The greater number of games won, excluding games won in Overtime or by Shootout (i.e., “Regulation Wins”). This figure is reflected in the RW column.
- The greater number of games won, excluding games won by Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
- The greater number of games won by the Club in any manner (i.e, “Total Wins”). This figure is reflected in the W column.
- The greater number of points earned in games against each other among two or more tied clubs. For the purpose of determining standing for two or more Clubs that have not played an even number of games with one or more of the other tied Clubs, the first game played in the city that has the extra game (the “odd game”) shall not be included. When more than two Clubs are tied, the percentage of available points earned in games among each other (and not including any “odd games”) shall be used to determine standing.
- The greater differential between goals for and against (including goals scored in Overtime or awarded for prevailing in Shootouts) for the entire regular season. This figure is reflected in the DIFF column.
- The greater number of goals scored (including goals scored in Overtime or awarded for prevailing in Shootouts) for the entire regular season. This figure is reflected in the GF column.
NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against.