Everything you need to know about the 2021 NHL playoffs

The NHL playoffs are set to start on Saturday, May 15 with the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins playing the first game.

Start polishing the Stanley Cup. The 2021 NHL Playoffs finally are set to begin.

The Washington Capitals will host the Boston Bruins in the postseason opener, with Game 1 of their best-of-seven matchup set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

The remainder of the schedule will be announced at a later date. 

The playoffs originally were scheduled to begin May 11, with the last possible day of the Stanley Cup Final being July 9. That, however, was pushed back after the regular season was extended to accommodate rescheduled games for the Vancouver Canucks, who had eight games postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak in late March. The Canucks play their final regular season game on May 19 against the Flames. The Central and East divisions have completed the regular season, while the West wraps up on May 13.  

"With the newly revised end date for the regular season for the North Division, it is possible that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the East, Central and West Divisions could open a few days earlier than the North Division," the NHL said in a statement.


Where will the 2021 NHL postseason be held? 

Teams completed the regular season at their own arenas this season in front of limited capacity crowds, and that will continue for the start of the postseason. 

That will help give the playoffs a more traditional feel compared to last season, when the NHL successfully held the postseason inside eerily quiet bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.

Will the 2021 NHL playoffs be played in Canada?

To be determined. This decision won't make an impact until the semifinals in June, when the winner of the North Division enters semifinal play along with three teams from the States. 

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the NHL is prepared to adjust the format and do whatever is necessary to complete the playoffs

“Where we play is going to depend on COVID, obviously -- we hope to keep everybody healthy -- and it’s going to depend on government regulations in terms of where we’re going to be able to travel our players and our teams and where we can’t,” Bettman said. “If we can’t travel in Canada, either as among the provinces or from the U.S. to Canada and back, we’ll make whatever adjustments we have to do to get the playoffs completed.”

If there are travel restrictions, it's possible the North division winner could relocate to one of the NHL’s U.S. cities for the later rounds. Or perhaps the semifinals, and possibly the Final if the North winner advances, will be held in a bubble to prevent a home ice advantage.

Who is favored to win the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs?

The top two betting favorites both come from the same division. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, both of the West Division, are listed as the favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup, meaning the divisional playoffs out west could be very interesting. According to PointsBet, the Avalanche are currently listed as the favorites to win the Cup at +400, while the Golden Knights are a close second at +450. 


Here are the Stanley Cup Finals odds for the 2021 NHL Playoffs:

Colorado Avalanche, +420

Vegas Golden Knights, +500

Toronto Maple Leafs, +650

Tampa Bay Lightning, +700

Carolina Hurricanes, +900

Boston Bruins, +1100

Pittsburgh Penguins, +1200

Washington Capitals, +1500

Edmonton Oilers, +1800

New York Islanders, +2000

Florida Panthers, +2000

Minnesota Wild, +2500

St. Louis Blues, +3000

Montreal Canadiens, +3000

Winnipeg Jets, +3500

Nashville Predators, +4000

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.