The NHL is the best thing that has happened to ice hockey. If it weren’t for the NHL, ice hockey would not have earned the fandom and respect it has now.
It may sound like an exaggeration of things, but it is not

How many ice hockey leagues are so famously known worldwide? Hardly any, whereas NHL is the most prominent and prestigious ice hockey league.

Along with some most dramatic matches, fierce rivalries, and physical contact, the remuneration of players is also good, which attracts the best players of ice hockey.

The NHL season 2022-23 started with a doubleheader and, like always, promises to be a great season because of the upcoming prospects and growing interest of new fans.

Therefore, it calls for a guide for newcomers, so they can understand the season’s structure and enjoy it wholeheartedly.

Basic Rules

There are 32 teams categorized into four divisions: Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific. You will also find minor leagues, women’s leagues, and different college leagues. However, the premier league remains to be the NHL.

Each game consists of 60 minutes divided into three halves of twenty minutes. If the scores are tied at the end of regular time, extra time is provided, and if it still does not break the tie, then the match is decided by a shootout.

Season Structure

Photo: Klim Musalimov/Unsplash

The season is played in two parts: the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. Before the 2017-18 season, each team used to play 82 games, half at home and a half away. The scheduling changed to adjust to new changes. Now, each team plays four to five times against each other within their division and with other divisional teams within the conference. The remaining matches of all teams are scheduled for inter-conference games.

The idea behind such scheduling is that each team plays at every arena at least once in the season. Further, the teams rotate every season to maintain the balance and competition level. In every season, there is an All-Star game, which usually takes place at the midpoint of the league.

Besides the All-Star game, there’s also a Christmas break in which there is no game on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. On top of that, there’s a window between 18 December and 27 in which players are not allowed to be traded or transferred.

Scoring System

There’s no point awarded for the loss in the regulation period. However, if a team loses in overtime or a shootout, one point is awarded to the losing side. Whereas a win within the regular time, overtime, or shootout results in two points.

But here’s a twist. If a team calls the goaltender as an extra attacker in overtime and still loses the match, the one-point rule is forfeited.

To break the ties in the standings, the NHL has its ways that include:

  • The number of matches played
  • The number of wins by regulation and overtime win ratio
  • The higher number of points earned between the clubs at home and away
  • The differential between goals scored and received

Stanley Cup Playoff Series

It is an elimination tournament comprising 16 teams. There are three rounds of the best-of-seven series to determine the final teams for the Stanley Cup final. It is where NHL betting piques everyone’s interest.

Twelve teams get the automatic selection in the elimination round as the top three teams from each division enter the playoff series. The remaining two teams from each conference earn their spots through wild cards.

As part of the first round, the league’s highest-ranked team plays the lower-ranked wildcard, and the division winner plays the higher-ranked wildcard. Teams finishing second and third in each division play with each other.

Further, in the first round, the highest-ranked team, its wild card opponent, the second-positioned team, and the third-positioned team form a bracket, and the two winners meet in the second round. 

The Stanley Cup Final is decided by the Western Conference bracket champion and Eastern Conference bracket champion.

Featured Image: Klim Musalimov/Unsplash
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