A grouping of NHL teams that play in the westernmost cities in North America that are home to an NHL franchise. In the modern NHL, the Western Conference consists of three divisions containing five teams each, for a total of fifteen teams in the conference.
Because many of the cities that have NHL franchises are located in the eastern part of North America, some Western Conference teams are geographically based in the eastern United States. Because of the increased distance between cities with teams in the conference, players on Western Conference teams will travel longer and more regularly than players on Eastern Conference teams.
At the end of an NHL regular season, the eight teams in the Western Conference that finish the season with the highest number of points will participate in the NHL playoffs. The Western Conference quarterfinals and semifinals take place during the first two rounds of the playoffs, with the Western Conference finals taking place in the third round. The winner of the Western Conference finals receives the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and advances to the Stanley Cup finals.
The three divisions of the Western Conference are the Northwest Division, the Pacific Division, and the Central Division. The alignment of teams in the Western Conference is as follows: