NHL live standings and team rankings

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How do NHL standings work?

The NHL standings are available in a few different versions, including by division, by conference, and by league. You can also view the NHL standings in the wild card format, if all you’re looking for is potential playoff seeding.

Reading the NHL standings by division means that the standings will be broken down by division. There are four different NHL divisions with eight teams in each. This is important because divisional match ups often come with high stakes and can have a large impact on which teams progress to the NHL playoffs.

Divisional match ups featuring evenly-matched opponents may not be the best games to bet on, due to the volatility of the result. It could be a favorable wager, however, if you have a strong hunch about who will likely win. For example, perhaps you’re more confident betting on the home team.

Some divisions are also stronger than others, so it might be easier to bet on the Vegas Golden Knights who often garner favorable match ups in the Pacific Division.

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NHL conferences and divisions

The NHL has 32 teams that are divided into two 16-team conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. From there, each conference is further divided into two 8-team divisions. The top three teams in each division make the playoffs, and the remaining four playoff teams are from the wild card spots. Each conference has two wild card positions, meaning two extra teams from each conference make the playoffs.

The two division winners of each conference match up against the two wild card teams in their respective conferences. The division winner with the better record plays the lowest-seeded wild card team, while the higher-seeded wild card team takes on the other division winner.

Once the first round series match ups have been established, a playoff bracket or ‘tree’ is formed. This is similar to what the NCAA does for March Madness. Each playoff series is a best of seven, meaning one team has to win four games to eliminate the other. If one team eliminates another 4-0 (four straight wins without defeat), it’s called a ‘sweep’.

The first three rounds of the playoffs only feature in-conference match ups, meaning that an Eastern Conference team cannot play a Western Conference team in the playoffs until the Stanley Cup Finals.

Hockey_NHL_Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman
© Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

What are NHL team rankings?

NHL team rankings refer to the way in which teams are positioned in the standings, based on their overall record among other things. The primary way to determine NHL team rankings is by points. If one team has more points than another in their division, they will be ahead of them in the standings. Where it gets a bit tricky is when two teams are in the same conference, but in different divisions.

For example, if the Philadelphia Flyers are third in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points, it wouldn’t matter if the Boston Bruins were fourth in the Atlantic Division with 79 points. The Bruins would remain in a wild card spot, instead of in third place, because they are simply not in the Metropolitan. This is why the strength of NHL divisions has always been a controversial subject.

Looking at the points and point percentages of each team, and not just their rankings in the NHL standings, can add context to your decision-making when you’re figuring out who to bet on. As the example shows, a fourth or fifth place team in one division may be having a season that’s as good, if not better, than a third-place team in another division.

NHL standings FAQs

What are the current NHL standings?
Are there wild cards in the NHL?
How many NHL divisions are there?

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BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff