Everything about the coming playoffs has been doled out in dribs and drabs over the last weeks, as rumours and leaked ideas, and finally the games are really about to start in a few week’s time. What actually is the format, anyway? Here’s all the answers we have so far for gameplay that is set to begin on August 1 after an arrival at each hub by July 26.

This important change from normal practice begins Monday, July 13:

Where are the games?

All games will be played in Rogers Place in Edmonton and the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Eastern Conference teams play in Toronto, the Western in Edmonton.

Who is playing whom?

There are 12 teams in each hub, leaving seven teams not competing. Training camp rosters are being tracked by the NHL. Final game play rosters will come before the teams move into the hub cities on July 26.

Top Four Seeds

The top four teams in each hub play a round-robin against each other, with the results re-seeding their order of one through four. Those teams are ordered now by their points percentage in the regular season:

Eastern Conference
  1. Boston
  2. Tampa Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Philadelphia
Western Conference
  1. St. Louis
  2. Colorado
  3. Vegas
  4. Dallas


The other eight teams in each hub are the qualifiers. They will play each other in a Qualifying Round that will run at the same time as the Seeding Round.

Eastern Conference

5. Pittsburgh vs 12. Montréal

6. Carolina vs 11. New York Rangers

7. New York Islanders vs 10. Florida

8. Toronto vs 9. Columbus

Western Conference

5. Edmonton vs 12. Chicago

6. Nashville vs 11. Arizona

7. Vancouver vs 10. Minnesota

8. Calgary vs 9. Winnipeg

Are there exhibition games?

There are, and they will be on television. They are scheduled for July 28 - July 30, and more details to follow.

What are the game formats for the opening rounds?

The Qualifying and Seeding Rounds are considered playoff games for statistical purposes and these first 10 days of game play exist to set up the order of teams in the 16-team playoffs that follow, while culling out eight losers of the Qualifying Round.

All 16 teams in the Qualifying Round are considered to have “made the playoffs” for team records and statistical purposes, but the NHL is not treating the 8 losers as having made the playoffs for trade condition purposes according to multiple reports.

Seeding Round games use regular season overtime and shootout rules, and determine the final order of the top four teams heading into the playoffs. Ties are broken by the regular season points percentage.

Qualifying Round series are best-of-five elimination rounds with traditional NHL playoff overtime formats. The losers of these eight Qualifying Round series enter the second draft lottery immediately after this opening round of play is over.

Then what?

After the teams have been culled to eight in each hub and ordered by the opening rounds, the first round of the playoffs begins. That round will be seeded with the top team from the Seeding Round playing the lowest ranked qualifier (based on the points percentage from the regular season). Team two plays team seven and so on.

What are the game formats for the playoff rounds?

All playoff series are best-of-seven with traditional playoff overtime formats. The subsequent rounds will be re-seeded in the same way the first round is. The second round and Conference Final will also be held in the two hubs.

Where is the Stanley Cup Final?

The Conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final rounds of games will be in Edmonton.

Who is in stripes?

  • In Edmonton:/

Referees: Marc Joannette, Steve Kozari, TJ Luxmore, Jon McIsaac, Brad Meier, Brian Pochmara, Dan O’Rourke, Chris Rooney, Francois St. Laurent, Kelly Sutherland

Linesmen: Scott Cherrey, Ryan Gibbons, Brad Kovachik, Kiel Murchison, Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot, Mark Shewchyk, Andrew Smith, Tony Sericolo, Libor Suchanek

  • In Toronto: /

Referees: Francis Charron, Gord Dwyer, Eric Furlatt, Trevor Hanson, Jean Hebert, Frederick L’Ecuyer, Chris Lee, Wes McCauley, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman

Linesmen: Shandor Alphonso, Derek Amell, Steve Barton, Devin Berg, David Brisebois, Michel Cormier, Greg Devorski, Matt MacPherson, Derek Nansen, Bryan Pancich

The supervisors are: In Edmonton, Rod Pasma will serve as the Hockey Operations Supervisor, with Bill McCreary and Don Van Massenhoven as Officiating Managers.

In Toronto, Kay Whitmore will serve as the Hockey Operations Supervisor, with Paul Devorski and Rob Shick as Officiating Managers.

All off-ice officials will be working as normal, and we should expect complete statistics for all games.

Player Safety in New York and the Toronto Situation Room will also be operating as normal, and Player Safety will have a staff in each location.

When time are the games?

All games are to start at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm, local time in Toronto, and 2 pm, 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm, eastern time in Edmonton, with some provision to adjust times in Edmonton during the qualifying round.

The NHL schedule is now online.

What channels are they on?

The answer to that question is going to be long and complicated, and isn’t available yet.

Who is calling the games?

While NBC (Toronto) and Sportsnet (Edmonton) will split the work of producing the television feed, national rightsholders will be in each arena to call the games for their broadcasts.

When will the Stanley Cup be handed out?

The plan is to hand it out no later than October 4, but a lot can change between now and then.

Will the finals be Leafs vs Oilers?

Yes, the fix is in.

More details at the NHL’s FAQ.