HEAVY LIES THE CROWN
The Kings are dead, failing to even make the playoffs a year after winning the Cup, but one of these teams in a wide-open field will be NHL’s new king
The NHL will have a new champion and the Stanley Cup playoffs will welcome back some long-absent teams.
The Kings became the first champion to miss the playoffs the following season since Carolina in 2007. They were joined on the sidelines by the Boston Bruins — last season’s top seed in the East — and the San Jose Sharks. That opened the door for the Ottawa Senators in the East and the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets to make it in the West. Calgary advanced for the first time since 2009; playoff hockey returned to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996 and the first version of the Jets.
The division winner with the best record in each conference plays the wild-card team with the fewest points, and the other division winner faces the other wild-card team. Within each division the second- and third-place teams face each other. The first-round winners within each bracket will meet to determine the four conference finalists. Shown below, the winners across the top and across the bottom face each other in a conference semifinal (seeds are by bracket). Those winners meet in the conference final.
A look at the matchups: