NHL Stanley Cup
The NHL is the most prestigious level of competition in ice hockey. Because of the sportís roots, the majority of players come from Canada. However, plenty of players come from the US, and in recent years, there has been an influx of talented European players. Despite the diversity of players, the majority of NHL franchises are in American cities.
The league is divided up into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The Eastern Conference is divided up into three divisions: Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast. The Western Conference is divided up into three divisions: Central, Northwest and Pacific. Each season, the players compete in an exhibition season (September), the regular season (October to mid-April) and the post season, also known as the Stanley Cup playoffs (mid-April to June).
The Regular Season
Each team plays a total of 82 games Ė 41 home games and 41 on the road. Each team will play all other teams in their division six times, all teams outside of their division four times and the remaining 18 games are inter-conference games. This set up allows each team to play every other team at least once. Each team is awarded two points for a win, one point for a loss in overtime or a shootout and no points for a loss in regulation time. These points determine the seed positions for the teams and thus whether or not they qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Post Season
After being introduced to the sport by his children, the Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, became a huge hockey fan. Recognizing that there was no commemoration for the best team in Canada, in 1892 he purchased a decorative bowl for use as a trophy. It became known as the Stanley Cup and is still used to commemorate the best team in the NHL each year. It is one of only two sports trophies that have all of the winning team membersí names inscribed on it. Unlike other sports trophies, a new trophy is not made for each yearís winner to keep. Instead, the Cup is passed from team to team each year. The Cup is surrounded by plenty of superstition and legends and is one of the most coveted prizes in the sporting world.
The Stanley Cup playoffs is a best of seven series. The top 16 teams (eight from each conference) face off in three rounds to determine who will play in the final round for the honor of claiming the Stanley Cup. In the first round, or Conference Quarterfinals, teams from each conference are matched up based on their seed positions. The top seeded teams face off against the lowest seeded teams as follows: 1-8, 2-7, 3-6 and 4-5.
In the second round, or Conference Semifinals, the top remaining seed plays against the lowest remaining seed and the other two teams face off against one another.
In the third round, or Conference Finals, the two remaining teams in the conference play against one another. The winners of this series are declared the conference champions and go on to play in the final round against the opposing conference champions for the Stanley Cup.
The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup an unprecedented 24 times. Thatís more than double the amount of the second most winning team, which is the Detroit Red Wings with 11 wins. The Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers round out the top three with five wins apiece. There are 12 teams that have never won the Cup.
The post season is a favorite for sports bettors and fans alike. Many people like to add an extra element of excitement to the games by making a friendly wager. Many online sportsbooks offer odds on several aspects of the games, but the two most popular are the Money Line and the Puck Line. If you would like to learn more about the odds in this sport, check out our ice hockey page. If you would like to learn more about other types of hockey to bet on, check out our Olympic Hockey page. Or, if you would rather just get right into it, visit our recommended sportsbooks to put down a wager on your favorite teams.