Everything you need to know about the NHL’s updated playoff format

Flyers warmup at Wells Fargo Center

The NHL recently announced its ‘return to play’ plan and while the hub city decisions and overall format made plenty of sense, there were still some important gaps left to fill. Some of those questions were answered today,

Series lengths

We knew the round-robin would be a one-game per matchup affair and that the qualifiers would consist of a shortened five-game series. It was confirmed today that all remaining matchups between the qualifiers and the cup will be held over a seven-game series.

As far as the Flyers go, this could be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the Flyers would be energized coming off of three individual games in the round-robin seeding. Less attrition over a seven-game series is always favored. On the other, the Flyers’ opponent in the first round will be fresh off of a five-game series and may well have fatigue and endurance on their side. I don’t think it will be that much of a deal, but it is at least going to play some sort of role.


Many expected this to get a little murky. Once the round-robin and initial qualifying games are completed, who plays who? Is it done via bracket or numerical seeding? It turns out that the highest remaining seed in each conference will face the lowest remaining seed. That’s simple enough.

What about a tie?

The Round Robin will consist of three games. If, for whatever reason, there is a tie between any of the top four teams, the placing will come down to regular-season points percentage. That seed will persist throughout the remainder of the playoffs.

Home ice advantage

Since these games will be played at neutral site, there’s no real ‘Home’ Ice in the playoffs, the higher seed will be given games 1, 2, and 5 as ‘Home’ events, while 3 and 4 will be given to the lower seed. Over a seven game series, the same principle applies, only the higher seed gets game 7, with the lower acquiring game 6.

In the Stanley Cup Final however, the team with the highest regular-season points percentage will be given games 1, 2, 5, and 7…which is odd. If a round-robin team makes it all the way to the final, I would have assumed that they would automatically become the home team? I guess it keeps things fairer and more reflective of the bigger picture.

And now, we hold our breath one last time until a puck finally drops onto the ice. The waiting resumes and the anticipation builds. In the meantime, don’t forget to keep checking in with Philly Sports Network for the latest Flyers news and updates!

Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre