In every postseason, not just the NHL playoffs, there are a handful of teams who made the cut who miss out the next season, and in their place are the same number of teams who didn’t get to play beyond the regular season who go on to make the playoffs.
In the NHL, 16 out of the league’s 30 teams make it to postseason play. The four division winners, the 2nd and 3rd place teams in each division, and then two teams from each conference with the best remaining records are considered the “wild card” teams, regardless of where they place within their division.
This essentially gives every team a better than 50% shot at making the postseason, and a 4-in-14 chance at being one of the wild card teams.
This is just my fancy way of saying, you have to be a pretty stinking bad team to miss the NHL playoffs.
2014 was the first year for this new playoff format, and the fans seem to have found it a little more fair, as with the old “best 8 records in the conference go” scenario, teams had little incentive for playing well and finishing high in their division race.
The factor that continues to plague the NHL standings is the “overtime loss”, which gains a point for a team in the standings, versus two points for a win. There were a number of teams who may have lost a number of overtime games in the blink of an eye, who were just a point or two shy from making the playoffs.
Let’s not even get into the whole shootout win/loss point debacle.
But the convoluted points system used to determine standings is a whole other elephant to eat. Given what we have, and how it works, some teams are going to do better next season, while others will be worse off.
So who will drop out, and who will slide in? Here’s a look at five teams who missed the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, who will be in the thick of postseason play in 2015.