NHL Playoffs is the best of 7 format in 2023. Best of Five was implemented in 1979 but switched to 2 more games after the 1986-87 season.

A team must win at least four games out of seven to advance to the next round in the Best-of-seven playoffs. The 2022-23 Stanley Cup playoffs kickstarted on April 17, 2023, with the first-round games, which include 16 teams.

These teams, eight each from the Eastern and Western conferences, have come a long way doing their best in their division to qualify for the playoffs rounds. 

The Boston Bruins who made a record-breaking 135 points, the most in the league system in one regular season, won the Atlantic Division, are qualified for the First Round, and faced the Florida Panthers.

Likewise, the Las Golden Knights, crowned Pacific Division champions with 111 points, made it to the playoffs from the Western Conference. Vegas found the Winnipeg Jets as their opponents in the Round One.

Is Round 1 Of NHL Playoffs Best Of 5?

Round 1 NHL Playoffs are not best of 5 but played 7, which means any team with four wins is through. The first round starts after all the league games are over.

Since 1985, Major League Baseball (MLB) has employed a playoff structure that involves a best-of-seven arrangement to determine the victor. Before that, Round 1 of the hockey playoffs was the best of 5 formats.

Once the dust settles from the regular season games, the cream of the crop in each division is revealed, consisting of the superior teams that have qualified for Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Higher Seed Team Gets Home Ice Advantage

Based on the team's regular season points total, they are seeded higher or lower.

The club with the most points in each division is seeded first, and then the remaining teams are seeded based on their points total, regardless of their division.

Boston Bruins TD Garden all set for the 2023 playoffs round one
Source : instagram

The edge higher seeds teams have is they are awarded a home-ice advantage which means they get to play four games at home out of the possible seven, including the first two games of the series.

Round 1 NHL Playoffs best of 7 series works in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, which illustrates that the higher seeds team hosts the first two games, followed by two games at the other team's arena, and then alternating home games for the remainder of the series, if necessary.

Four Wins Is Must

Any team that gets four wins is through to Round Two of the NHL playoffs. It is like an unwritten rule of hockey playoffs best out of 7 formats.

That does not necessarily means a team has to win four consecutive games, No. Whether a team wins four games straight or through a combination of wins and losses, they advance to the next stage as long as they achieve four successes.

The selection of 4 as the winning threshold is based on its significance as most of the seven games played. Should a team clinch the series prior to game 7, all subsequent rounds are disregarded.

Draws Are Not Allowed

The Best of Seven series eliminates any possibility of a game ending in a draw. Because one team always prevails atop of the other. 

If a series is tied at 3-3 after the first six games, a seventh and deciding game will be played at the higher-seeded team's arena. The series winner will advance to the next round of the playoffs, while the loser will be eliminated from the postseason.

Kraken grab a win against Avalanche to tie the series 2-2 going to Game 5
Source : instagram

Similarly, if a tied game after regulation time, overtime periods will be played until a goal is scored, resulting in a sudden death victory for one team. 

The best-of-seven format is considered the ultimate test of a team's ability. It allows for a more precise reflection of which team is better over a more extended period, as it minimizes the impact of any game or player's performance.

Other Hockey Playoffs Rules

Playoffs Rules differ from the set of rules that governs regular season games. Rules aside, the intensity of the game is much higher in playoffs.

The underlying reason for the fear lies in the fact that if a team loses a playoff series in any round of the Stanley Cup, they are instantly eliminated, requiring the team to leave the tournament.

On the other hand, there have been multiple alterations in the regulations governing playoff games in the history of the NHL. Each time, the changes are made for good to make the tournaments more entertaining and competitive. 

Here are some rules that work differently in Playoffs than in regular league season.

  • Overtime is played 20-minute, 5-vs-5 sudden death 
  • Plays In Best of 7 layout
  • Home Ice advantage
  • Each Playoff Round Last Two Weeks
  • It Is a Knockout; hence the losing team goes home straight
  • No scoring corrections are made

Hockey Playoff Overtime Rules

In the playoffs, if a game ends with a draw after the normal time, the game will go into overtime until a team scores a goal to win.

Unlike the regular season, playoff overtime is played with five players from each team on the ice, and the game is sudden death. 

Stanley Cup 2023 First Round playoff underway
Source : pinterest

Hockey Overtime intermission length during the playoffs is 15 minutes because the overtime period can last up to 20 minutes when no goals are scored.

Similarly, In the playoffs, the team with the better record gets the home-ice advantage, which means they play more games on their home ice. Every game is crucial, as the losing team is immediately eliminated. 

Furthermore, In the regular season, sometimes the league will inspect game tapes and revise the scoring based on the official scorer's decision. However, no scoring corrections are made in the playoffs, and the score stands as it was initially called on the ice.

Some FAQs

Is Hockey Overtime Sudden Death?

Yes, Hockey Overtime in playoffs is a sudden death format. During the overtime, if any team scores a first goal, they are through and losing team packs the bag.

How Many Overtime Periods In Playoff Hockey?

There are no limits to overtime periods in playoff hockey. The teams go at it until the tie is decided with a winner.

NHL Playoffs Teams In 2023

NHL Playoffs teams in 2023 include division winners Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights. They play against the wild card teams Florida and Winnipeg, respectively.

According to National Hockey League, wild card teams refer to the two teams in each conference that are not in the top three of their respective divisions. 

Road Map To the Stanley Cup Finals
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Once the 16 teams have been determined, they will be placed in two separate brackets based on their seeding and division. These brackets will evaluate each team's path to reach the NHL Finals.

The teams will have to go through three rounds, namely the First Round, Second Round, and Conference Finals before the Eastern and Western Conference champions confront each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.

First Round Of The 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs

Eastern Conference 

  • Boston Bruins (A1) - Florida Panthers (WC2)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (A2) - Tampa Bay Lightning (A3)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (M1) - New York Islanders (WC1)
  • New Jersey Devils (M2) - New York Rangers (M3)

Western Conference

  • Colorado Avalanche (C1) - Seattle Kraken (WC1)
  • Dallas Stars (C2) - Minnesota Wild (C3)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (P1) - Winnipeg Jets (WC2)
  • Edmonton Oilers (P2) - Los Angeles Kings (P3)

In Eastern Conference, the Bruins lead the series 3-2 against the Panthers after five games. If Boston wins Game Six on April 28, they will win the series 4-2 and advance to the second playoff round. However, if the opposite happens, the winner will be decided in Game 7 on April 30.

Likewise, the victor of Boston vs. Florida will face the Toronto vs. Tampa Bay winner in Round Two. Toronto is most likely to go through based on the current situation in which they lead 3-1.

The 2023 NHL Playoffs teams mascot by Daniel Sulzberg
Source : instagram

For instance, the Carolina  Hurricanes have a slight edge over the New York Islanders by 3-2, while the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are all square in 2-2.

Similarly, in the West, the conference regular season champion, Vegas, is in a comfortable position, 3-1, taking a commanding lead over Winnipeg in their playoff series.

On the other hand, Jake Oettinger inspired the Dallas Stars. Edmonton Oilers are taking a 3-2 lead over their opponents, while the Colorado Avalanche and Seattle Kraken even-steven in the series with 2-2.