The American Hockey League (AHL) serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). It is composed of 30 teams based in the United States (27 teams) and Canada (3 teams). Teams are divided into two conferences – Eastern and Western. Each conference is further subdivided into two divisions - Atlantic and North in the Eastern Conference; Central and Pacific in the Western Conference.
Since the 2010–11 season, every AHL team is affiliated with an NHL team. An AHL season starts in October and Culminates in April.
Each AHL team plays 76 games a season - 38 at home, 38 on the road. However, Pacific Division teams (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton and Tucson) play 68 games each - 34 at home, 34 road.
During the regular season, teams receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) qualify for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs features a divisional playoff format, leading to the conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven. The annual playoff champion is awarded the Calder Cup, named for Frank Calder, the first President (1917–1943) of the NHL.
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