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The 2017 NHL season is right around the corner, as all of the action begins in October and runs through the presentation of the Stanley Cup to the champion in June. The 30 teams will fight it out for the right to win the Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy in all of sports.
The defending Stanley Cup champions are the Pittsburgh Penguins. They won their second Cup since 2009. Even though the Stanley Cup playoffs are often incredibly unpredictable, the ultimately champion has been one of just a handful of teams. Since 2009, the only champions have been the Penguins (twice), the Chicago Blackhawks (three times), the Boston Bruins (once) and the Los Angeles Kings (twice).
The hockey teams will play in 82 games over the course of the regular season to cut the league from 30 teams down to the 16 which get into the postseason.
The clubs are split into four divisions and two conferences. The Eastern Conference has both the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division. In the Atlantic, we have Tampa Bay, Florida, Detroit, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, Buffalo and Toronto. The Metropolitan Division has Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina, New Jersey, Columbus and the Rangers and Islanders. In the Western Conference, the teams are cut into the Pacific Division and the Central Division. The seven teams in the Pacific include Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Arizona, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton. The Central Division features Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Colorado and Winnipeg.
Each team which finishes in the Top 3 in any division will get into the postseason. The next two top point earners in each conference also get into the playoffs. The second and third place teams will face off with each other in each division, the winner of which will advance to play either the winner of their division or one of the fourth place teams from the conference. The winners of those series meet the winners from the opposite divisions in their conference, while the victories of the conference finals square off in the coveted Stanley Cup Finals.
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Eastern Conference - Atlantic
Eastern Conference - Northeast
Eastern Conference - Southeast
Western Conference - Central
Western Conference - Northwest
Western Conference - Pacific