As has been the case since 1979-80, 16 teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season, however, the format is a set bracket that is largely division-based with wild cards.
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season record and regardless of division. It is possible for one division in each conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.
In the First Round, the division winner with the best record in each conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other division winner.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will meet in the First Round within the bracket headed by their respective division winners. First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round to determine the four participants in the Conference Finals.
Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the team that placed higher in the regular-season standings. In the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, home-ice advantage goes to the team that had the better regular-season record -- regardless of the teams' final standing in their respective divisions.
X - Clinched Playoff spot
Y - Clinched Division
Z - Clinched Conference
P - Clinched Presidents Trophy
GP - Games Played
W - Wins (worth two points)
L - Losses (worth zero points)
OT - OT/Shootout losses (worth one point)
PTS - Points
ROW - Total number of Regulation plus Overtime Wins (used in 2nd tiebreaker at right)
GF - Goals For
GA - Goals Against
DIFF - Goal Differential
HOME - Home record
AWAY - Away record
S/O - Record in games decided by Shootout
L10 - Record in last ten games
STREAK - Number of consecutive wins, regulation losses, or OT/SO losses.
If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order:
The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.
The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season. NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against.
It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.
— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday