The NHL has updated their playoff bracket format beginning with the 2014 Playoffs. The bracket will still have 16 teams, with 8 teams from both the Eastern and Western conferences.
Each conference’s bracket will now be broken up into 2 sections, one for each division. You can look at it like the March Madness Bracket, meaning it is broken up into 4 different brackets. You can see this in the bracket above(each division has it’s own section).
Qualifying and Seeding:
The top 3 teams from each division will automatically qualify and be seeded from 1 to 3 based on their record. The teams with the best record in their conferences will be the overall number 1 seeds. This will take care of the first 12 qualifying teams.
Two wild card teams from each Conference make up the rest of the bracket. The wild card teams will be the 4 seeds, the bracket above will show them as W1 and W2, which is explained below. Of the remaining teams in each Conference(not division) the top 2 teams will become the wild card teams. The wild card team with the lesser record(W2 in the bracket) will play the overall number 1 seed, the wild card team with the better record(W1) will play the other number one seed.
A strange feature of this, is that a wild card from one division could actually be playing in another division’s section of the bracket.
Once the match ups are determined, the location of the division names in the bracket above could change. The overall number 1 seed in each conference will be at the top of the bracket.
One important thing to note is that teams are NOT re-seeded as they were in the past. This allows you to now be able to run a bracket pick’em pool just like the March Madness Tournament!