How Many Teams Make the NHL Playoffs

The NHL is the world’s most prominent organization for elite hockey professionals. This status also makes it the most competitive hockey league in existence. 

Since the disruptions caused by the pandemic in 2020, 2022 is the first regular season. As such, we can expect a thrilling season with fierce competition as all teams aim for glory.  

Let’s look at the NHL’s playoff format, how the tournament has shaped up so far, what to expect, and where we can watch it.

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When Do NHL Playoffs Start?

The NHL playoffs start three days after the end of the regular season.

How Many Rounds Are in The NHL Playoffs?

There are four rounds. They are referred to as the first, second, conference, and Stanley Cup Finals.

The conference’s leading team plays against the second wildcard team, while the other winner also plays the other wildcard winner in the first round. The team that comes in second in each division competes against the team that comes in third.

After that, the system changes slightly. The teams do not receive placement in the second round. Instead, the series’ victor with No. 2 and No. 3 division teams plays against the winner of the series. Their division winner ends up playing the wild card team.

What Number of Games Are in an NHL Series?

Regardless of the round, a best-out-of-seven is played in every series. Therefore, the first team that wins four games gets to move on to the following round.

The seven games are played following a 2-2-1-1-1 pattern. One team gets to play the first and second game, then the fifth and seventh in their home arena. The other will play the remaining games, but only the first four are usually played. Games five to seven are played only if needed.


How Many Teams Go to the Playoffs?

A total of 16 teams make the NHL playoffs, comprising eight from the Eastern Conference and eight from the Western Conference.

The top three teams in each conference division are assured positions in the postseason. The winners of each division get the top two spots, while the remaining teams with the top two best scoring records get the last two spots. The final two can come from the same division.

How Many Players Are in the NHL Playoffs?

The NHL starts every season with 736 players. The thirty-two teams selected are allowed to submit twenty-three players each. Thirty-two is one team more than the usual thirty-one due to the addition of the newest team, the Seattle Krakens. 

Although the NHL requires each team to submit their roster of twenty-three players at the beginning of the season, only twenty players are listed on the gameday roster. This ‘dressed list’ has eighteen skaters and two goaltenders. The extra three added to the start-of-season roster are backup players.

Given these logistics, the NHL will typically only have 640 active players for every season.

How Many Teams Have Made the NHL Playoffs in 2022?

This year, the league includes Metropolitan, Central, Atlantic, and Pacific divisions. The Eastern Conference is represented by the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions, while the Western Conference is represented by the Central and Pacific divisions. In total, these are 32 teams.

Only 16 of these teams make it to the postseason.

How Many Teams Secured Positions in the NHL Playoffs?

There are a few teams that managed to secure positions for themselves in the postseason a few days before the season ended:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Washington Capitals 
  • Minnesota Wild
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Boston Bruins
  • Calgary Flames
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • New York Rangers
  • Carolina Hurricanes 
  • Colorado Avalanche 
  • Florida Panthers
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Which Teams Were Eliminated Early From the NHL Playoff in 2022?

These teams got eliminated:

  • Arizona Coyotes 
  • Seattle Kraken
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • New York Islanders 
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Buffalo Sabres 
  • Detroit Red Wings 
  • Columbus Blue Jackets

What Are the NHL Playoff Matchups for Early June?

Looking for the matchups for early June 2022? Here’s what to expect. 

Eastern Conference

Floride vs. Washington

Toronto vs. Tampa Bay 

Carolina vs. Boston

NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh

Western Conference

Calgary vs. Dallas

Edmonton vs. Los Angeles 

Colorado vs. Nashville 

Minnesota vs. St Louis 


Where To Watch NHL Playoffs

Tune in to ESPN to watch the Eastern Conference final and TNT to watch the Western Conference final. You can stream all games in Canada on NHL LIVE. For other places around the globe, check the NHL site.

Where to Buy NHL Tickets?

Would you like to watch the game in person at the arena? You can get all available tickets here:


Don’t Miss Out on NHL Excitement

The NHL is the biggest global hockey game with the most skilled players alive every season. With fewer restrictions now that the pandemic is getting under control, there are more games to watch and more teams participating. Livestream the NHL games on any streaming platform available, or get a ticket today for a chance to watch your favorite team in person.

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