Capitals

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Bracket, start date, schedule

Capitals

Of all the adjectives which can be used to describe the 2020-21 NHL season, “normal” certainly is not one of them. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s hockey campaign was shortened from the usual 82-game regular season to just a 56-game slate. Moreover, the league saw a complete overhaul of the division breakdown that pitted teams against each other more rigidly based on geographic locations (for example, all seven Canadian teams are in the ‘North’ division by themselves).

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak that ran through the Vancouver Canucks organization and postponed eight of their games, the NHL announced in mid-April that the regular season would now end on May 16, eight days later than originally planned. Because of this postponement, the Stanley Cup Playoffs (originally scheduled to begin May 11) has been pushed back as well.

What could be most interesting about the 2021 NHL postseason, though, is the matchups. In non-COVID-affected years, eight teams from each conference would qualify for the playoffs, with the seventh- and eighth-ranked teams designated as wild cards. Following many leagues’ classic format, the winner of the Eastern Conference would play the winner of the West in the Stanley Cup Finals.

2021 is different. With the realignment of the divisions, the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals could see some whacky matchups. The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs, the No. 1 seed playing No. 4, the second-best team against No. 3, with the winners advancing to play each other. No wild cards. After these series, one team will be crowned the winner of their division. Then, yet another reshuffling will take place. The four teams that win their division will be re-seeded based on regular season point totals, then will be placed in a pool ranked 1-4. The top team will play No. 4, two and three pitted against each other, with the two winners playing in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

What does this mean? Well, it means the usual East vs. West Finals matchup is not guaranteed. Two teams in the geographical Eastern U.S. could play each other for a shot at the Cup, same with the West. Boston could play Tampa Bay for a shot at the best trophy in sports, for instance. Teams that have been turning heads during the regular season, such as the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, look eager to make a deep playoff run.

With all the new rules in place for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, here’s everything you need to know:

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs How to Watch

When: First round began May 15, 7:15pm EST as Washington hosted Boston

TV: NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA, NHL Network

Stream: NBC Sports App

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket: First Round 

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders (NYI wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Islanders 4, Penguins 3 (OT)
  • Game 2: Penguins 2, Islanders 1
  • Game 3: Penguins 5, Islanders 4
  • Game 4: Islanders 4, Penguins 1
  • Game 5: Islanders 3, Penguins 2 (2OT)
  • Game 6: Islanders 5, Penguins 3

Washington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins (BOS wins 4-1)

  • Game 1: Capitals 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
  • Game 2: Bruins 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
  • Game 3: Bruins 3, Capitals 2 (2OT)
  • Game 4: Bruins 4, Capitals 1
  • Game 5: Bruins 3, Capitals 1

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators (CAR wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Predators 2
  • Game 2: Hurricanes 3, Predators 0
  • Game 3: Predators 5, Hurricanes 4 (2OT)
  • Game 4: Predators 4, Hurricanes 3 (2OT)
  • Game 5: Hurricanes 3, Predators 2 (OT)
  • Game 6: Hurricanes 4, Predators 3 (OT)

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (TB wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Lightning 5, Panthers 4
  • Game 2: Lightning 3, Panthers 1
  • Game 3: Panthers 6, Lightning 5 (OT)
  • Game 4: Lightning 6, Panthers 2
  • Game 5: Panthers 4, Lightning 1
  • Game 6: Lightning 4, Panthers 0

Colorado Avalanche vs. Saint Louis Blues (COL wins 4-0)

  • Game 1: Avalanche 4, Blues 1
  • Game 2: Avalanche 6, Blues 3
  • Game 3: Avalanche 5, Blues 1
  • Game 4: Avalanche 5, Blues 2

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild (VGK wins 4-3)

  • Game 1: Wild 1, Golden Knights 0 (OT)
  • Game 2: Golden Knights 3, Wild 1
  • Game 3: Golden Knights 5, Wild 2
  • Game 4: Golden Knights 4, Wild 0
  • Game 5: Wild 4, Golden Knights 2
  • Game 6: Wild 3, Golden Knights 0
  • Game 7: Golden Knights 6, Wild 2

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens (MTL wins 4-3)

  • Game 1: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
  • Game 2: Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
  • Game 3: Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
  • Game 4: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0
  • Game 5: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
  • Game 6: Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT)
  • Game 7: Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets (WPG wins 4-0)

  • Game 1: Jets 4, Oilers 1
  • Game 2: Jets 1, Oilers 0 (OT)
  • Game 3: Jets 5, Oilers 4 (OT)
  • Game 4: Jets 4, Oilers 3

Second Round: Division Finals

New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins (NYI wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Bruins 5, Islanders 2
  • Game 2: Islanders 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
  • Game 3: Bruins 2, Islanders 1 (OT)
  • Game 4: Islanders 4, Bruins 1
  • Game 5: Islanders 5, Bruins 4
  • Game 6: Islanders 6, Bruins 2

Hurricanes vs. Lightning (TB wins 4-1)

  • Game 1: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
  • Game 2: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
  • Game 3: Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
  • Game 4: Lightning 6, Hurricanes 4
  • Game 5: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 0

Avalanche vs. Golden Knights (VGK wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
  • Game 2: Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
  • Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2
  • Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Avalanche 1
  • Game 5: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)
  • Game 6: Golden Knights 6, Avalanche 3

Canadiens vs. Jets (MTL wins 4-0)

  • Game 1: Canadiens 5, Jets 3
  • Game 2: Canadiens 1, Jets 0
  • Game 3: Canadiens 5, Jets 1
  • Game 4: Canadiens 3, Jets 2 (OT)

Stanley Cup Semifinals

Lightning vs. Islanders (TBL wins 4-3)

  • Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
  • Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
  • Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
  • Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
  • Game 5: Lightning 8, Islanders 0
  • Game 6: Islanders 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
  • Game 7: Lightning 1, Islanders 0

Canadiens vs. Golden Knights (MTL wins 4-2)

  • Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
  • Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
  • Game 3: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
  • Game 4: Golden Knights 2, Canadiens 1
  • Game 5: Canadiens 4, Golden Knights 1
  • Game 6: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)

Stanley Cup Finals

Canadiens vs. Lightning (TBL wins 4-1)

  • Game 1: Lightning 5, Canadiens 1
  • Game 2: Lightning 3, Canadiens 1
  • Game 3: Lightning 6, Canadiens 3
  • Game 4: Canadiens 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
  • Game 5: Lightning 1, Canadiens 0