NHL Playoffs 2021: Dates, Live-Stream Schedule and Stanley Cup Bracket
While the NHL regular season isn't quite finished, the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs have already begun. While the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks will play their regular-season series into Wednesday, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins kicked off the postseason on Saturday.
All 16 playoff participants have been determined, and the bracket has been set for the opening round.
Here, we'll examine the playoff bracket—along with some key dates and viewing information—and dig into some of the top storylines heading into the first full week of the postseason.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4. New York Islanders
2. Washington Capitals vs. 3. Boston Bruins
1. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 4. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers vs. 3. Winnipeg Jets
1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 4. Nashville Predators
2. Florida Panthers vs. 3. Tampa Bay Lightning
1. Colorado Avalanche vs. 4. St. Louis Blues
2. Vegas Golden Knights vs. 3. Minnesota Wild
Key Dates and Viewing Information
A full schedule can be found at NHL.com, but some of the key dates are as follows:
- Monday, May 17 - Nashville vs. Carolina Game 1
- Monday, May 17 - St. Louis vs. Colorado Game 1
- Monday, May 17 - Washington vs. Boston Game 2
- Tuesday, May 18 - New York vs. Pittsburgh Game 2
- Tuesday, May 18 - Tampa Bay vs. Florida Game 2
- Tuesday, May 18 - Vegas vs. Minnesota Game 2
- Wednesday, May 19 - Winnipeg vs. Edmonton Game 1
- Thursday, May 20 - Montreal vs. Toronto Game 1
- Thursday, July 15 - Last possible date for the Stanley Cup Final
Playoff games are all scheduled to air on NBC's family of broadcast networks—NBC, NBCSN, USA and CNBC—or on NHL Network in the United States. Games will be shown on FX, FXX, CBC and Sportsnet in Canada.
Live stream for most games will be available on NBCSports.com in the United States and on SN Now, SN+ and NHL Live in Canada.
After the first two playoff rounds are complete, the four division-winners will be reseeded for the semifinals based on regular-season point totals.
Zdeno Chara Facing Former Team
Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara signed a one-year deal with Washington in December after spending more than a decade with the Bruins. As fate would have it, the 44-year-old drew his former team in the opening round of the playoffs.
"It's one of those stories that when everything happened at the start of the year, you thought something like this could happen based on the way we were set up in the division," Washington assistant coach Kevin McCarthy said, per The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir. "And here we are, some 120 or so days later, and it is coming to fruition."
Chara's knowledge of Boston's roster and strategy should serve the Caps well during the opening series. He first joined the Bruins back in 2006 and hadn't played for a different NHL franchise until joining the Capitals. Bruins like Charlie McAvoy aren't going to get sentimental about facing their former teammate.
"Obviously, we have a special bond, but this is the Bruins vs. the Capitals, and that's really it," McAvoy said, per Logan Mullen of NESN.
While Chara didn't score during Saturday's overtime win, he did notch an assist against Boston back on May 11.
Taylor Hall Playing for His Future
While Chara is busy trying to beat his new team, one of the newest Bruins is possibly playing for his future in Boston.
Winger Taylor Hall was one of the highest-profile acquisitions of any team just before the trade deadline and a stellar pickup for the Bruins. The No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft struggled with the Buffalo Sabres before being dealt but quickly made his mark in Boston.
Hall logged eight goals and six assists in his first 16 games with the Bruins. Locking up Hall seems logical for Boston, but it could hinge on how he performs in the postseason.
"As far as Taylor goes, we're going to continue to see how things go with the playoffs here," Bruins president Cam Neely said, per Joe Haggerty of Boston Hockey Now. "I think we'd like to try and get something done, but that remains to be seen. But it is our hope."
Like Chara, Hall failed to score during Saturday night's opener. However, he did produce two goals last Monday against the Islanders. Boston will need Hall to have some similar performances here in the postseason.