The Stanley Cup playoffs is an elimination tournament consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series. The first three rounds determine which team from each conference will advance to the final round, dubbed the Stanley Cup Finals. The winner of that series becomes the NHL and Stanley Cup champion.
The first round of the playoffs, or Conference Quarterfinals, consists of four matchups in each conference, based on the seedings (1–8, 2–7, 3–6, and 4–5). In the second round, or Conference Semifinals, the top remaining conference seed plays against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining conference teams pair off (unlike the NBA, for example, where the 1–8 winner always plays the 4–5 winner, regardless of who wins). In the third round, the Conference Finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the first three rounds, the higher-seeded team has home-ice advantage (regardless of point record). In the Stanley Cup Finals, it goes to the team with the better regular season record. The team with home-ice advantage hosts games 1, 2, 5 and 7, while the opponent hosts games 3, 4 and 6 (games 5–7 are played "if necessary").