Single Elimination/Sudden DeathEdit
This format is frequently used in tournament playoff rounds such as the Allan Cup, Memorial Cup, Olympic Games where the teams are put into pools where they play each of the other teams in their pool to determine placement for the playoff rounds with one game being played to see who advances to the next round or wins the tournament. If the game ends regulation in a tie either overtime or a shootout or even both are used. International tournaments have often used both where a ten-minute overtime period is played and then followed up by a three or five round shootout until there is a winner
Two games total goalsEdit
This is a concept borrowed from soccer and was used in hockey's early history.
One game is usually played at each team's home base. The total goals from the two games determines the winner.
One advantage of this format are that there are a set number of games that assists in scheduling further playoffs. This was good when there were a large number of teams and series to be played in a limited amount of time. Time was limited in hockey before artificial ice was introduced. When the weather got too warm the season was over.
Another advantage is that it cuts down on travel time. This was a problem in the early days before airplanes and good roads.
If the two teams were tied then usually a third game was played at a neutral site. Deciding this neutral site was often a serious problem. Sometimes another two games were played,
A serious disadvantage was that if the first game was too lopsided then there would be little fan interest in the second. This could be a blow to the second home team, which counted on playoff receipts to balance its books.
Best of three, five, and sevenEdit
As travel became easier these formats gradually became popular. Also the expansion of artificial ice availability extended the season.
The advantage was that the score of the first game became irrelevant. The result counted, of course, but the losing team could not come back easier.
In amateur hockey ties counted in these formats. They counted as one point and wins were two. The first team to reach the necesssary number of points - four in best of three, six in best of five, and eight in best of seven - would win the series. Overtime was a problem for amateur teams as theyu had no flexibility in their travel schedules.
The Ontario Hockey Association had a rule that if the teams were tied in points and both needed just one point to win, then the series would be stopped and a new two games total points series would be held. An example of these situations includes both teams with seven points in a best-of-seven.
Best of nine and elevenEdit
These formats were used but rarely.
The Western Hockey League used the best-of-nine playoff series for the Western Division playoffs from the 1983-84 season through the 1990-91 season because of the unequal division alignment of the league at this time. The Eastern division had eight teams: six of which qualified for the playoffs. The Western division only had six teams: four of which made the playoffs. Because of this, Eastern division had 3 rounds of playoffs (two teams received a first round bye), while the Western division only had two rounds of playoffs. The east played a best-of-five, best-of-seven, best-of-seven format for the three rounds while both rounds in the Western division playoffs were best-of-nine. This was used so that both divisions would finish their playoffs at approximately the same time. The WHL Championship Series was a best-of-seven. These best-of-nine series went the full nine games on two occasions, with Portland Winter Hawks defeating the New Westminster Bruins in 1984 and Spokane in 1986.
In 1953, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) suspended the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association (QAHA) in February. This meant that Quebec teams could not compete for the Allan Cup or the Memorial Cup.
To fill the void in scheduling. Quebec leagues adopted several best-of-nine and even best-of-eleven.