NHL Playoffs 2017: Dates, Live-Stream Schedule and Stanley Cup Bracket

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2017

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 28:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins checks Matt Calvert #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets while chasing after the puck during Game Six of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena on April 28, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

March Madness and other events receive well-deserved publicity, but it is hard to find a more thrilling, gut-wrenching and euphoria-inducing event on the sports calendar than the Stanley Cup playoffs.  

One wrong bounce of the puck can be the difference between a stunning first-round exit and a run to the title, and sudden-death overtimes can last hours and test the heart rates of thousands of fans on both sides.

The 2016-17 regular season came to an end Sunday, setting the stage for the playoffs. Here is a look at the bracket, full schedule, per NHL.com, and a first-round series to watch.

                    

Bracket

NHL on NBC shared the playoff bracket:

           

Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule and Broadcast Information

2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule
Eastern Conference
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals1Thursday, April 137 p.m.USA
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals2Saturday April 157 p.m.NBCSN
Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs3Monday, April 177 p.m.NBCSN
Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs4Wednesday, April 197 p.m.NBCSN
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals5*Friday, April 21TBDTBD
Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs6*Sunday, April 23TBDTBD
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals7*Tuesday, April 25TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins1Wednesday, April 127:30 p.m.USA
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins2Friday, April 147 p.m.NHL Network
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets3Sunday, April 166 p.m.CNBC
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets4Tuesday, April 187:30 p.m.CNBC
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins5*Thursday, April 20TBDTBD
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets6*Sunday, April 23TBDTBD
Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins7*Tuesday, April 25TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens1Wednesday, April 127 p.m.NBCSN
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens2Friday, April 147 p.m.USA
Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers3Sunday, April 167 p.m.NBCSN
Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers4Tuesday, April 187 p.m.NBCSN
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens5*Thursday, April 20TBDTBD
Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers6*Saturday, April 22TBDTBD
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens7*Monday, April 24TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators1Wednesday, April 127 p.m.NHL Network
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators2Saturday, April 153 p.m.NBC
Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins3Monday, April 177 p.m.CNBC
Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins4Wednesday, April 197:30 p.m.USA
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators5*Friday, April 21TBDTBD
Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins6*Sunday, April 23TBDTBD
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators7*Wednesday, April 26TBDTBD
Western Conference
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks1Thursday, April 138 p.m.NBCSN
Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks2Saturday, April 158 p.m.NBC
Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators3Monday, April 179:30 p.m.CNBC
Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators4Thursday, April 20TBDTBD
Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks5*Saturday, April 22TBDTBD
Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators6*Monday, April 24TBDTBD
Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks7*Wednesday, April 26TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild1Wednesday, April 129:30NBCSN
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild2Friday, April 148 p.m.NBCSN
Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues3Sunday, April 163 p.m.NBC
Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues4Wednesday, April 199:30 p.m.NBCSN
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild5*Saturday, April 22TBDTBD
Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues6*Monday, April 24TBDTBD
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild7*Wednesday, April 26TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks1Thursday, April 1310:30 p.m.NBCSN
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks2Saturday, April 1510:30 p.m.NBCSN
Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames3Monday, April 1710 p.m.NBCSN
Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames4Wednesday, April 1910 p.m.USA
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks5*Friday April 21TBDTBD
Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames6*Sunday, April 23TBDTBD
Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks7*Tuesday, April 25TBDTBD
MatchupGameDateTime (ET)TV
San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers1Wednesday, April 1210 p.m.USA
San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers2Friday, April 1410:30 p.m.NBCSN
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks3Sunday, April 1610 p.m.NBCSN
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks4Tuesday, April 1810 p.m.NBCSN
San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers5*Thursday, April 20TBDTBD
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks6*Saturday, April 22TBDTBD
San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers7*Monday, April 24TBDTBD
Source: NHL.com (*if necessary)

*Games can be live-streamed online at NBC Sports or on the NBC Sports app.

                     

First-Round Series to Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

There are a number of reasons this is the first-round series to watch, not least of which is the fact the Pittsburgh Penguins will begin their Stanley Cup title defense.

They finished with 104 points during the 2015-16 campaign and 111 points this season, so they didn't suffer through the proverbial championship hangover. However, their reward is a showdown with their Metropolitan Division rivals Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus impressed this season with 108 points, making this series far more intriguing than what is sometimes a first-round cakewalk for the defending champs. These two teams are familiar with each other after splitting their four games in 2016-17 (with one overtime loss for each), and the cliche "no love lost" applies.

The Blue Jackets figure to challenge the Penguins much like they did in 2014 during a six-game playoff series.

Each side is dealing with a significant blueliner injury, although Pittsburgh's Kris Letang's is more serious. Letang will miss the entire postseason with a herniated disk, per Wes Crosby of NHL.com, after he posted 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 41 contests this season. Letang tallied 15 points in 23 postseason games last year.

On the other side, Zach Werenski has been out since April 2 with injury, but Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch said he's expected back by the playoffs.

Werenski is a defenseman who generated plenty of offense with 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) this season, but the rookie may have to deal with postseason pressure at less than 100 percent.

He and his fellow defenders will also square off with a Penguins team that is still loaded with difference-makers outside of Letang.

The likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, among others, are familiar to even the most casual hockey fans, and Pittsburgh was first in the league in goals per game this season. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan also said he believes the injured Malkin will return by the playoffs, per Wes Crosby.

Columbus' best chance at ousting Pittsburgh and winning a playoff series for the first time in its history lies in its talented goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky.

His goals-against average was a sparkling 2.06, while his save percentage was 93.1. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times said he thinks Bobrovsky deserves the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP this season.

The goaltender will be tasked with stopping the best scoring offense in the NHL, and doing so would certainly prove his case.

He also must rescue a Blue Jackets squad firmly in the middle of a nosedive. They dropped six of seven to end the season and scored more than two goals just twice in that span with a concerning lack of firepower.

Columbus head coach John Tortorella didn't seem particularly worried, per Portzline: "I haven't lost an ounce of confidence through what's happened here the last little bit. We'll be ready to play."

Bobrovsky will keep them in every game, but Crosby and Co. will prove too much for a Columbus team that is trending in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

Pittsburgh's playoff experience and overwhelming offense will carry it through against a formidable opponent.

           

Prediction: Penguins in six.