There are only a few weeks left in the 2022-23 NHL season, but the race for the playoffs is tighter than ever.
We’re starting to get a sense of where certain clubs are going to finish. The Bruins have already clinched a playoff berth, the first club this season to do so. Their record pace has the team well on its way to finishing first in the Atlantic and likely earning the top spot in the East.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning have a hold on the Nos. 2 and 3 spots in the Atlantic, respectively. However, the Metro Division and wild card spots are up for grabs and it could be any one of a number of teams earning those placements.
The Western Conference is completely wide open. The top teams in the conference have been yo-yo-ing up and down, especially in a tight Pacific Division. However, the eight teams currently in a postseason spot in the West are putting distance between themselves and the rest of the pack.
MORE: Bruins on pace to break NHL records for most points, wins by a team in a season
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 NHL playoffs.
NHL standings 2023
(Current as of March 12)
|1.||X – Bruins||50-9-8||105|
X = clinched playoff berth
NHL playoff bracket, matchups 2023
Here’s what the NHL Playoff matchups would be if the regular season ended today:
(A1) Bruins vs. (WC2) Islanders
(A2) Maple Leafs vs. (A3) Lightning
(M1) Hurricanes vs. (WC1) Penguins
(M2) Devils vs. (M3) Rangers
(C1) Stars vs. (WC1) Oilers
(C2) Wild vs. (C3) Jets
(P1) Golden Knights vs. (WC2) Avalanche
(P2) Kings vs. (P3) Kraken
When do the NHL playoffs start?
The 2022-23 NHL regular season will end on Friday, April 14. The first round of the NHL playoffs has a tentative start date of Monday, April 17.
How will the 2023 NHL playoffs work?
There are four rounds in the Stanley Cup playoffs — first round, second round, conference finals and Stanley Cup Finals.
In the first round, the top team in the conference plays the second wild-card team. The other division winner takes on the other wild-card team. The No. 2 team from a division plays the No. 3 team from the same division.
After that, the teams do not get reseeded in the second round. Rather, the winner of the series with the No. 2 and No. 3 teams for a division plays the winner of the series with their division winner playing the wild card team.
For example, if the Bruins finished first in the Atlantic and won their first-round matchup, they would play the winner of the series between the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the Atlantic.
After the second round, the last two teams in each conference square off in the conference finals. The Eastern and Western Conference winners then fight for the Stanley Cup in the finals.
Each series is a best-of-seven format.
In terms of home-ice advantage, the series is played in a 2–2–1–1–1 style, which means the team with the better record plays Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 at its home arena, while its opponent hosts Games 3, 4, and 6. Only the first four games in the series are guaranteed, with Games 5, 6 and 7 only played if necessary.
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