There is no greater increase in intensity from the regular season to playoffs than in the sport of hockey. Battling the same team for two weeks straight in a seven-game series breeds contempt. And this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs should be fiercer than ever with the intradivisional format the NHL has adopted for the first two rounds that will pit teams against the divisional foes they've skated against all year.
Due to travel restrictions between the US and Canada, the NHL realigned its divisions this season, placing the league's seven Canadian teams in the same North division. The US teams were organized into East, Central and West divisions, and teams played games only within their division all season long. The top four teams in each division qualified for the playoffs, which start on Saturday.
There is nothing like the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here's how fans in the US can watch.
Which teams are playing in the playoffs?
Here are the first-round matchups:
- Penguins (1) vs. New York Islanders (4)
- Capitals (2) vs. Boston Bruins (3)
- Carolina Hurricanes (1) vs. Nashville Predators (4)
- Florida Panthers (2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
- Colorado Avalanche (1) vs. St. Louis Blues (4)
- Vegas Golden Knights (2) vs. Minnesota Wild (3)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (4)
- Edmonton Oilers (2) vs. Winnipeg Jets (3)
You can view the full schedule for round 1 here.
How can I watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV?
In the US, first-round games will be shown on NBC, NBCSN, USA Network, CNBC and NHL Network. You don't need cable or satellite TV to watch the action on the ice. All of the majorinclude NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC, and most offer NHL Network. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it's available in your area.
Alternatively, if you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the games on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching anto nearly any TV.
Sling TV's $35-a-month Blue package includes NBC, NBCSN and USA Network. CNBC and NHL Network can each be added for an extra charge. NBC can be watched live only in a handful of markets.
FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC. NHL Network can be added for an added fee. Click here to see which local networks you get.
AT&T TV's basic $70-a-month package includes NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC. NHL Network is included in its $95-a-month plan. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC but not NHL Network. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.
Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC but not NHL Network. Click the "View channels in your area" link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.