The NHL has awarded a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks.
This is the first time since the NHL expanded to the East in 1993 that the Cup Playoffs have been decided by a wild card or tiebreaker.
The Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild will play in the Stanley, and the winner will take home the Cup.
Here is how the playoff format will play out: The top-seeded team will play the first-place team from the Western Conference.
If the Blackhawks and Wild both advance to the Stanley Final, the team from that Conference will be seeded first.
In that scenario, the winner of the Wild-Chiarelli matchup will advance to face the winner from the Blackhawks-Wild.
That winner would be the one that advances to the Western Final.
But if the Wild beat the Blackhawks in that series, the Wild would face the Blackhawks again in the Conference Final.
In the second round, the third-place teams would play the top-ranked team from each Conference.
If the third place team wins that series and the Wild defeats the Blackhawks, the loser of the second-round series will face the third and final-place Chicago teams.
So in that scenario the winner would have to advance to play the third seed from the conference that won the first round.
Should the third seeds win the conference series, they would face each other in the next round, where the winner plays the second seed from that conference.
And the winner advances to face both the first and second-seeds.
Of course, the Blackhawks will have to beat the second seeded Wild to get into the Conference Finals.
A Wild-Wild series would also likely feature a shootout, which would also play into the Wild’s hands.
“I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how that plays out, I think it will be interesting to watch how that evolves,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
It is not the first wild card system to have its first playoff berth awarded to a team from a different conference.
In 2000, the New Jersey Devils went 1-2-1 in the Eastern Conference and got a wild-card berth.
In 2003, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley and went on to play in their first Cup Final.
In 2004, the Los Angeles Kings were swept by the Boston Bruins in the Western Division Final.
“It’s always fun to see who has won the Cup and who has been the underdog,” Quennebridge said.
“I think there’s a lot of people who are going to want to be the underdog.
There’s a real sense of excitement in this league and I think the fans are going a little bit crazy to see this, I don’t know, a playoff format and a wildcard system.
“It feels like an opportunity to bring some different people together and really put together some really good teams.”
It was also an opportunity for the Blackhawks to start a new era in franchise history.
Chicago had never won a Cup Championship since the franchise was founded in 1929, and Quennebridges first playoff appearance came in 1967.
However, the franchise is not a household name in Chicago.
The team has not made the playoffs since 2002, when they lost in seven games to the Washington Capitals.
Quennebridgers first season was spent working as a scout for the Chicago Bulls, which had not won a playoff series since 1996.
His first goal came in a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the first playoff series in Chicago, and he scored his first goal of the playoffs against the Dallas Stars in Game 7 of the Western Semifinals.
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