How are NHL Standings Calculated

How are NHL standings calculated? It's not as straightforward as you might think; even diehard fans of the game might have to look up the rules in order to get everything straight.

It starts with wins, obviously. NHL standings are calculated based on points awarded for winning, or sometimes losing, a game. Each win counts for two points in this system, no matter how the win was achieved, whether in overtime or after a shootout. When they come during regulation, losses earn a team no points, but a team that loses during overtime or after a shootout will get one point for its trouble. The numbers of wins, losses and overtime losses are recorded in the standings as three hyphenated numbers. For example, if the Bruins have won 3, lost 1 and lost 2 in overtime, the team's record would be 3-1-2, and it would have 8 points.

The point totals are then compared to other teams in the league. The NHL is divided into two conferences, the Eastern and the Western. Each conference has three divisions. The Eastern conference has the Northeast, Atlantic and Southeast divisions. The Western conference has the Central, Northwest and Pacific conferences. Prior to the playoffs, teams are ranked against other teams in their own conference.

But it's slightly more complicated than that. Conference standings show the three division leaders first, followed by the remaining teams in the conference, ranked by number of points. That means that the team that is ranked third in the conference might have fewer points than the team that is ranked fourth; the third place team just had the good fortune to be in a weaker division.

At the end of the regular season, the top eight teams from each conference go to the playoffs.  

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