So I didn’t write a hockey 101 blog last week, partly because I was on spring break, and partly because I’m not sure there is much more I can explain about hockey. So since the playoff season is going to start soon, I’m going to break down what happens during the playoffs. With less than two weeks left in the current season, it seems like prime time to do this.
Who gets into the playoffs?
In hockey there are two conferences: Eastern & Western, in each conference respectively the top eight seeded teams go to the quarter-final rounds.
What are the line-ups?
Obviously the line-ups change each year depending on where the top eight fall in the league standings; however, the first round goes according to a specific formula that determines which teams will play each other. There are four series that occur during the quarter-finals, #1 plays #8, 7 plays 2, 3 plays 6, and 4 and 5 take on each other. Then the playoffs go into the conference semi-finals which are set up similarly to the quarter finals, it just really depends on who are the four teams left. Then the Conference finals, which determines what teams will battle for the coveted Stanley Cup. The conference winners are given trophies too, for the East the team that comes out on top will receive the Prince of Wales Trophy and in the West it is the the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
What’s the deal with playoff beards?
I had to actually research the origins of this tradition, and surprisingly it did not start intentionally or out of superstition. The playoff beard started by the New York Islanders in 1980, but it really just started because they were playing games back to back that a lot of them didn’t have time to shave. The tradition really has evolved since then, and even fans sport them. (If I was a dude, I’d do it.) The practice is that a player who enters the playoffs doesn’t shave his beard until he wins the Stanley Cup or his team is eliminated. A lot of NHL follow this tradition, there are few who do not, but it is always interesting to see how ridiculous hockey beards can get.