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NHL Standings

When beginning to follow any sport, it’s important to learn how to read the standings of the league. Learning NHL standings is important and might seem a little confusing at first. However, once you have the basics under control, the confusion is cleared up immediately. While most professional sports rely on the final score of a game to determine which teams are the best in a particular season, the NHL operates a little differently.

The NHL standings show which team, at any time during the season, is in a position to make the postseason and, possibly, the race for the Stanley Cup. The most valuable aspect of the NHL standings is represented by the “P” or “PTS,” which tells you how many points the team has.  All teams compete to be among those with the most points by the end of the season to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Game NHL Standings

“GP” is the number of games played and “W” tells you the number of wins a team has. “L” stands for how many games were lost in regulation play, while “OL” or “OTL” lists the number of games lost in overtime or in a shootout. “T” is the number of games that ended in a tie.

Point Standings

For each win, a teams is awarded two points, while an overtime or shootout loss is worth one point. Similarly, a tie is good for one point; however, ties were eliminated as of the 2005–2006 NHL season.

“GF” or “F” refers to the total number of goals scored by the team. However, this number does not include the number of goals scored during a shootout. A team that wins a shootout is credited with one extra goal in the game and one extra goal in its season total for the NHL standings.

“GA” or “A” is the total goals allowed by a team. Just like with GF, goals allowed during a shootout are not added to the team’s GA total. The team losing the shootout is charged with one extra goal-against in the game and one extra goal-against in its season total.

“PCT” is the percentage of total points earned from the points available.

Additional Options

“H” represents a team’s record at home, displayed as W-L-OTL, and “A” is its record on the road, also expressed as W-L-OTL. “Div” refers to the team’s record within its own division and is also expressed as W-L-OTL.

“Last 10” or “L10” provides the team’s record over the last ten games, expressed as W-L-OTL. “STK” or “ST” is the team’s current streak of consecutive wins or losses – W2 would mean the team has won two games straight, but L3 means it has lost three in a row. “GFA” is the average goals scored per game, while “GAA” is the average goals allowed per game.

How NHL Standings Determine Playoff Qualification

The NHL’s teams are divided into two conferences, each with two divisions. The playoff schedule is set according to conference standings, but the division standings are used for just one purpose – the division leaders are seeded in the playoffs in order in the conference standings.

The NHL standings are determined by total points. If two or more teams are tied in total points, the tie is broken using several criteria until a winner is decided. The team with the most wins is awarded the leading position and, if two teams are tied in wins, the team with the most points in games against each other among the tied teams is selected. If these figures are tied, then the greater positive differential between goals scored for and against among the tied teams is the deciding factor.

Throughout the season, the standings will change frequently. Teams can go on a winning or losing streak and, in a few short weeks, be in a very different position. Only rarely will one team remain at the top of the NHL standings for most of a single season.

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