How Long Do Hockey Playoffs Last? [Ultimate Guide!]

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It’s that time of the season again. Hockey season. Those glorious summer months we’ve been waiting for are finally here, which means only one thing: Hockey playoffs are upon us.

Now is the time to dust off those funny sweaters and show those terrace-level fans who really thinks winning is most important. It’s time to prove to the world that your team is indeed the best and bring home the Stanley Cup. We can’t wait to see you in the playoffs. It’s going to be tons of fun. You’ve worked hard all year long and deserve this moment. But now, your efforts might be for nothing. Just how long do hockey playoffs last this year?

Shortened Playoff Run

This season’s playoff run is going to be very different from previous years. For starters, the regular season is only going to have 82 games this year, compared to the usual 88-90 games. That means fewer rest days for the players, less time for the injuries to heal, and less time for the teams to recuperate. Also, the season is going to be much shorter. This means fewer games overall, and a quicker end to the season. The last game is usually played in mid-June, but this year, it will likely be over by then. The season will end on a Tuesday, June 19th this year, as compared to a Thursday, June 21st in previous years. And finally, the entire playoff process is going to be a lot more intense this year. There are only so many games left in the regular season, and each team wants to make sure they get everything done before the end. They’re not going to enjoy their down time on the beach.

Changes To The Playoffs

There are some noticeable changes this year’s playoff format. First, there are 12 teams in the league this year, as opposed to 16. This is because one of the original six teams didn’t make the playoffs this year. The Washington Capitals and New York Islanders are both qualified, but the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make the cut. The 12 teams were decided based on how they finished the regular season. The top eight teams make the playoffs as always, but the rest of the spots are decided based on how each team fared in their division. The Philadelphia Flyers won their division with 105 points, but due to tiebreakers, they are now in 12th place in the conference. The Boston Bruins had the best record in the Metropolitan Division and are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, even though they are currently in 11th place in the conference.

The second change involves the seeding for the playoffs. Last year, the first round was seeded based on the overall record of the team. So the first-place team would play the sixth-best team in the first round, the second-best team would play the fifth-best team, and so on. This year, the playoffs will be split into two halves, with the first round being a single-elimination tournament. The top four teams in each division will make the playoff pool, along with the two wild-card teams. The remaining eight teams play in the rest of the playoffs. Each team will play at least three games in the first round. After that, the top two teams in each conference advance to the second round, which is a best-of-seven series. Finally, the Stanley Cup champion are determined by whoever wins the most games in the finals.

No More Bubble

One of the nice things about the past few years’ playoff runs is how far each team in the conference had to go to get to the conference finals. The 1st-place team would play against the 8th-place team, the 2nd would play the 7th, and so on. It was a very open tournament. Last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning had to go through the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins before they even got to the finals. This year, the road to the finals is going to be much more difficult. The top four teams in each conference are sure to be good matches, but the other four teams aren’t necessarily weaker opponents. In fact, some of them are pretty good. Look at the Colorado Avalanche. They had the second-best record in the Western Conference and are one of the favorites to win it all this year. They have plenty of offense and didn’t give up many goals in the regular season.

The problem is, as the season wears on, each team is going to be battling injuries as well. The Tampa Bay Lightning had some talented players sidelined for long stretches during the season. As a result, they didn’t have the same impact on the ice that they normally do. Without the services of Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, and Matt Carle, the Avalanche’s offense wasn’t the same. Their goaltending was also somewhat shaky at times, especially in the second half of the season when a few of their netminders were sidelined with injuries. Still, the Avalanche finished the season with 52 wins. The next highest total in the conference was the Columbus Blue Jackets, with 48 wins.

Changes To The Offseason

As the season comes to an end, the off-season plans of the NHL teams are already starting to take shape. The regular season is over, and the playoffs are right around the corner. As a result, the off-season is a time for teams to rest, recuperate, and prepare for the next season. The offseason is also a time for teams to make changes. Some teams, like the Calgary Flames, are bringing in all the pieces they need to be successful in the future. They’re bringing in former MVP Martin Brodeur in goal, and young stars like Sean Monahan and Dougie Hamilton on offense. Last year, the Flames set a team record with 21 trades, and there are indications they might be willing to make more moves this off-season. They also have the cap room to accomplish quite a bit.

Other teams are looking to move on from the past season. The Montreal Canadiens have seen enough of Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec. They’re going in a different direction, and it starts at the top. General Manger Pierre McGuire wants to bring in young talent. Specifically, he wants to bring in players his team can develop into franchise players. In order to do that, he’s going to have to make some major moves. One of those players might just be Evander Kane. The 23-year-old center had 15 goals and 38 points in 66 games for the San Jose Sharks last season. It was a breakout year for Kane, who many consider to be one of the best young talents in the league. The Habs can’t afford to be without young talent anymore. They’ve got a lot of good players, but none of them are going to be around forever. This is why they’ve got to start thinking about the future. They’ve got to start planning for the day when P.K. Subban stops playing.

Shorter Offseason

The offseason is already beginning to wind down. Free agency started in the middle of November last year, and the offseason officially ended on December 12th. Since then, the teams have been in a holding pattern, waiting for the season to end and the free agency negotiating to begin. It’s only going to get more exciting in the coming weeks. The first wave of free agency has already ended, and teams are scrambling to make the most of the cap room they’ve got. The Calgary Flames have seen their cap room increase by about $7 million, thanks to some smart trades and some good luck. They’ve got the room to make a few more moves.

The Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers had the most room, increasing their caps by about $34 million and $11 million respectively. The rest of the teams are not far behind. In fact, several teams have more than enough cap room to make major moves. There aren’t really any weak links in the league anymore. Even the lowly Tampa Bay Lightning have the 6th most cap room with $38.8 million. It’s going to be exciting to see which teams make the most of their cap room and which ones try to use it as a tool to make another run at the Stanley Cup. Either way, the offseason is almost over, and hockey is back in the hockey-loving heart of North America.

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