How are the NHL Hockey Standings Calculated

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This is a tutorial about how the NHL standings are calculated.

For the die-hard fan, this article isn't for you.  This is for the novice or the fan who has just realized that hockey is an amazing sport and wants to know how to read the standings.

First of all, the standings are organized in two ways, divisional and conference.  We will look at divisional first.  The divisions are made up of five teams each three in the Eastern Conference(Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast) and three in the Western Conference(Central, Northwest and Pacific) these were made for save on travel and to create as many rivalries as possible(Toronto-Montreal, Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, Rangers-Islanders etc).

Now, onto calculating the standings within the division, there are four categories that really matter, Wins, Losses, OT, and Points, the other only comes into play for tie-break reasons which I have never seen happen in my life time, so we will not even go into those.

Wins, every time a team wins a game they receive 2 points.

Losses, every time a team loses they receive 0 points*.

OTL*(overtime losses) this column is where people may get confused.  a team receives one point for an overtime loss hence the asterisk.  An overtime win still gets you 2 point's, that win goes directly in the win column.

Points, combine all three categories Win=2, Loss=0, OTL=1...that's it.

Now we will discuss how the NHL calculates the Conference standings.   At the end of the regular season each division leader meaning the team in first place in their respective division receives a first, second or third seed for the playoffs automatically, the team with the most points of the three gets the first seed, second most of the three second and third most of the three gets the third seed.  Then, the rest of the conference is seeded as per points.  Top eight in each conference make the playoffs.  The number one seed plays number eight.  Two plays seven.  Three plays six and four plays five.  This is repeated in both conferences.

The team with the higher seed always gets home ice advantage.  If two teams have identical records, then they go to tie-breakers, usually the first tie-breaker is 'number of wins' is still tied 'number of losses' etc.

I hope this improved your knowledge of the greatest game on earth and how to calculate the NHL standings.

More about this author: Jack Strong

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