New playoff format
The NHL has created a new playoff structure that has been implemented for the 2014 postseason. Each conference, now comprised of two divisions, still has eight teams qualify for the postseason, but the potential matchups are significantly different.
Under the new format, the first three teams in each division automatically qualified for the postseason. The final two teams to qualify did so as wild cards based on their record, regardless of division. Those two teams will face the two division winners in Round 1 of the postseason. The second- and third-place teams in each division will square off.
Unlike previous seasons, there is no re-seeding for the second round. If the Penguins defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 1, they will face the New York Rangers-Philadelphia Flyers winner in the second. They would not face Boston, Detroit, Montreal or Tampa Bay until the Eastern Conference finals.
The NHL made the changes to place a greater importance on divisional rivalries.