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NHL Playoffs Online: When & How to Watch Hockey Finals Cheaper Without Cable

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Just like the regular season, cord-cutters can watch the entire NHL postseason without a cable or satellite TV subscription. It will start in April 2024. Read on to learn all your options.

In a hurry? Here are three popular streaming services that give you access to the necessary channels to watch the NHL playoffs without cable:

  • DIRECTV STREAM: Get a great channel lineup with the best selection of RSNs in the industry. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
  • Sling TV: This low-cost service allows you to select just the channel lineup you want. Save 50% on Sling TV now.
  • Hulu + Live TV: This total entertainment streaming service provides a great on-demand selection and all the essential live TV channels.

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Unfortunately, we don’t know a streaming service in that covers this sport. But if you’ve already paid for the right service, and just can’t watch because of your location, there is an easy way to get the content you deserve. You need a VPN, like one of the following.

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Even though you’re going to need a few channels to do it, everything you need to watch the NHL playoffs online is available without cable. So, whether you’ve cut the cord recently or you’re just thinking about it, read on to discover all of the ways you can watch the NHL playoffs without cable.

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NHL Playoff Channels

The official schedule for the NHL Playoffs games live stream have been released, and, as always, you’ll need a few different networks if you want the most playoff coverage.

The networks that air the NHL playoffs are ABC, ESPN, and TNT. Some of these channels are easier to find than others. But they are all available without cable.

TNT will be airing the Stanley Cup Finals alone. This is the first time the channel has done this — and the first time it has aired solely on a “cable” channel since 1994 when ESPN carried it alone.

Here’s a quick overview of which streaming services offer channels that will show NHL Playoffs games in the US:

† Sling Orange includes ESPN3, which normally simulcasts all ABC Sports events live but in the case of the NFL playoffs, they are being moved to ESPN+. Sling Blue offers ABC in select markets, so you can get it that way with the Sling Orange & Blue plan.

Sling TV is the cheapest option to catch the NHL Playoffs. If that is your only concern, it’s the way to go. If you care about the NHL regular season and other sports, you might want to look elsewhere.

Sign up now for Sling Orange to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Final! Complete First Round schedule available too!

If you are a fan of your local NHL team, DIRECTV STREAM is the best bet because it provides the RSNs (regional sports networks) that will bring you nearly every game of the season. Any blackouts in your area will appear on your local RSN. Hulu + Live TV does the same but for out-of-market hockey fans who don’t live in the broadcast area of their favorite team.

Read on to find out which other streaming services offer all the channels you need.

With an antenna, you should be able to watch hockey games that are broadcast on ABC. And that includes every game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Other than that, the streaming services listed below are going to be the only way to watch the NHL playoffs online.

FuboTV New York Rangers vs New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers vs New Jersey Devils on MSG Network via Fubo.

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NHL Playoffs: At a Glance

The hardest part about streaming the NHL playoffs without cable is making sure you have access to all of the channels you need. Luckily, there are a few streaming services that provide access to each of the required channels, so you’d be able to watch the NHL playoffs online through one app.

The good news is that you don’t need more than one streaming service to watch the playoffs because there’s an option that has all channels in a single plan. To get you started, see the summary below of the streaming service plans that might work for you to catch the playoffs this year.

  • Sling TV: The cheapest choice to watch all of the NHL Playoff games in 2022. For $40.00/mo, you can get Sling Orange, which features ESPN, TNT, and the underappreciated ESPN3 that simulcasts most games broadcast by ABC Sports (but sadly not the NFL playoffs this year). It’s not the best service for the regular season but it’s an awesome deal for the playoffs. The plan comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage but you are limited to a single stream. (Sling TV review and NHL guide)
  • DIRECTV STREAM: This is our top choice for NHL fans because it allows you to watch pretty much every game of the regular season via its vast selection of RSNs. But it’s also a top choice for the playoffs with ABC, ESPN, and TNT. You can get all that with its base (Entertainment) plan for $79.99/mo. But to get the RSNs, you need to upgrade to the Choice plan for $108.99/mo. This also includes many other sports channels including MLB Network and NBA TV. All plans come with unlimited cloud DVR storage and streaming on up to 20 devices at once. (DIRECTV STREAM review)
  • Hulu + Live TV: Starts with the outstanding Hulu on-demand library and adds 85+ live TV channels. And then it tops it off with Disney+ and ESPN+ — all for $76.99/mo. This includes ABC, ESPN, and TNT as well as Fox Sports (FS1, FS2), CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, and more. But during the regular season, it’s ESPN+ that really shines, offering most out-of-market games live. The plan comes with unlimited cloud DVR and streaming on up to two devices. (Hulu + Live TV review)
  • Fubo: Most known for its live sports coverage, it’s an excellent service for $74.99/mo. And it is great for the regular NHL season because it provides the RSNs from AT&T SportsNet, MSG, NESN, and NBC Sports, which offer games for local fans of the Bruins, Blackhawks, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Sharks, Golden Knights, and Capitals. But its 100+ channel lineup does not include TNT (or any of the Turner channels like TBS and TCM), so you will miss out on many playoff games although you will get to watch all of the Stanley Cup finals. All plans come with 1,000 hours of cloud DVR storage and streaming on up to 10 devices. (Fubo review)
  • Vidgo: Comes with 100+ channels for $69.99/mo. These include ABC and ESPN but like Fubo, it lacks TNT. It also lacks a cloud DVR but does allow you to stream on up to 3 devices at once. (Vidgo review)
  • YouTube TV: Provides a similar plan to Hulu + Live TV that will allow you to watch all the NHL playoffs for $72.99/mo.

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FuboTV Local Channels
Under the Guide tab in the Fubo interface, you can filter so you see only the local stations that are part of your plan.

Choosing a Streaming Service

Each streaming service offers one or more plans with a number of channels. These can be supplemented with add-ons. For example, Sling TV is more customizable than any of the other services but it also offers the fewest channels in its base plan.

Now let’s look at how such streaming services are different from conventional cable deals:

  • Contract vs No Contract: Most cable companies require you to agree to a contract. This gives you a set price for the length of the contract. When it’s up, your price usually goes up, too. This creates a system where new subscribers get the lowest available prices and loyal customers get stuck with a rising bill. Normally, a cable or satellite company will offer roughly the price you’d pay for a streaming service but only if you sign-up for 2 years. Not a great deal even if they offered more, which they don’t.
  • Add-On Fees vs Base Fee: Cable charges you a package price, just like streaming services do. However, you require a cable box or satellite dish to watch TV. As they consider you’re renting the equipment, they charge a fee for each set and the installation, even on multiple TVs. Streaming services don’t have fees like this. If your package is $40.00/mo, other than tax, that’s what you’ll pay. The only way your package costs more is if you add upgrades to your package (eg, Sling TV’s Sports Extra which adds NHL Network to its plan).
  • Useful Extras: Both cable and streaming services allow you to add additional channels to your package. Streaming services offer on-demand libraries that allow you to view previously aired content, but some cable packages allow that, as well. Both types of services offer DVR access, too. However, with cable, that usually costs you more money. Almost all streaming services offer cloud-DVRs in their plans. The only way you pay more for having a DVR is if you want more space than they offer.

Otherwise, the process is how it’s always been. Just tune into the channel you want to watch and enjoy the show!

Save 50% on Sling TV Now

Streaming Devices to Watch NHL Playoffs

The popular devices in wide use today are supported by most of the live TV streaming services we’ve discussed:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android mobile
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • iOS devices (eg, iPhone)
  • Roku
  • Samsung Smart TVs
  • Web browsers
  • Xbox.

There are minor exceptions. DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t support Xbox, but it does support its own device. Vidgo doesn’t support Samsung smart TVs or Xbox gaming systems.

Our streaming reviews provide complete lists of supported devices. There are many we haven’t mentioned here. One of note is that Hulu supports the PlayStation.

hulu picture in picture
Picture-in-picture with Hulu + Live TV.

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2023 NHL Playoffs

The top three teams are seeded from four divisions, namely, the Central, Pacific, Atlantic, and Metropolitan. There are also 4 wild card teams. These are the top two teams in each conference that were not already in the playoffs. In each matchup of the first two rounds, the team with the best record competes with the team with the worst, and so on.

The tournament itself is split into four segments:

  • First Round
  • Second Round
  • Conference Final
  • Stanley Cup Final

Each round consists of a best-of-seven series structure. The higher-placed team gets the home-ice advantage in games 1, 2, 5, and 7. The lower-placed team gets the home-ice advantage in games 3, 4, and 6.

2023 NHL Playoff Teams

The final NHL standings are in flux but we do know the three teams in each division that have made the playoffs. Additionally, the Boston Bruins, who have dominated this season, have clinched the President’s Trophy and will have home-ice advantage for their entire playoff run.

Western Conference

Central Division
Pacific Division

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Metropolitan Division

Currently, there are two final seeds, or wild card sports, up for grabs in each conference. The bold names have clinched a spot.

  • Eastern Conference: Florida Panthers, New York Islanders (Out: Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets)
  • Western Conference: Seattle Kraken, Winnipeg Jets (Out: Nashville Predators, St Louis Blues, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks)

2024 NHL Playoffs Schedule/Results

The 2024 NHL playoffs will start in April. We will have all the details as they become available.

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New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers
New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers – March 24, 2013 by Doug Kerr under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Wrapping Up

The NHL playoffs are coming and you can watch it all without cable. In fact, you can watch some of it for free without an antenna. Otherwise, you have many streaming options to choose from.

Sling TV is our top choice for the NFL playoffs. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.

Further Reading

Still need some help learning how to watch the NHL playoffs and other events online? We’re here to do what we can! If your question is service-specific, feel free to check out more cable alternatives.

We also have several streaming service comparisons where you can see what’s on the table — service comparisons are a smart way to predetermine value for your money.

As we mentioned throughout this review, Sling TV is a versatile service so we’ve compared it to several others in various price ranges:

We also have other useful articles on the best devices to stream with when you go cable-free, like this Roku Stick vs Chromecast review.

Save 50% on Sling TV Now


How can I watch the NHL playoffs in Canada?

Canadian hockey fans who live near the US border may be able to pick up games that air on ABC. But in general, they should sign up for NHL LIVE. This streaming service provides access to most games throughout the season and all of the playoffs. It is $29.99/mo or $74.99 for the end of the regular season and all the playoffs.

Do I need NHL Network to watch the playoffs?

You do not need NHL Network to watch the playoffs. According to the official event schedule, the NHL Playoff games will air entirely on ABC, ESPN, and TNT. Most of the games will air on TNT. But all of the Stanley Cup finals will appear on ABC, so you should be able to watch with an antenna.

When do the NHL playoffs start?

The NHL playoffs in 2022 started on May 2nd and will end with the playoff finals for the Stanley Cup sometime in July. When the Stanley Cup will be awarded depends on the date on which the finals take place. Hockey fans will know once the semi-finals have been played.

How do the NHL playoffs work?

The NHL playoffs consist of four separate rounds and a total of 16 teams from four divisions. Teams are seeded based on their performance in the Central, Pacific, Atlantic, and Metropolitan divisions as well as the top two remaining teams in each conference. Then, they play a best-of-seven series of games, right up until the final.

How do I watch the NHL without cable?

You can watch the NHL without cable on several sports channels via online streaming services. In the instance of the NHL playoffs, you need TNT, ESPN, and ABC. All of these channels are widely available via streaming services and ABC can be viewed for free via antenna in most areas.

Can I watch the NHL playoffs on Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime does not support the necessary live channels for you to watch the NHL playoffs. It is an on-demand service like Netflix. At best, Amazon Prime will have historical recordings of past NHL seasons where you may be able to stream classic Stanley Cup bouts on-demand. However, Amazon is changing and now shows live football so stay tuned!

Can I watch the NHL playoffs on Hulu?

You cannot watch the NHL playoffs on Hulu’s iconic on-demand service. You can, however, watch the NHL playoffs with Hulu + Live TV. It gives you access to 85+ channels, including ABC, ESPN, and TNT for $76.99/mo. You can also stream the games in a picture-in-picture mode and browse other channels.

What were the results of the 2023 NHL finals?

Round One

  • Seattle Kraken (4) vs Colorado Avalanche (3)
  • Minnesota Wild (2) vs Dallas Stars (4)
  • Los Angeles Kings (2) vs Edmonton Oilers (4)
  • Winnipeg Jets (1) vs Vegas Golden Knights (4)
  • New York Rangers (3) vs New Jersey Devils (4)
  • New York Islanders (2) vs Carolina Hurricanes (4)
  • Tampa Bay Lightnight (2) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (4)
  • Florida Panthers (4) vs Boston Bruins (3)

Round Two

  • Seattle Kraken (3) vs Dallas Stars (4)
  • Edmonton Oilers (2) vs Vegas Golden Knights (4)
  • New Jersey Devils (1) vs Carolina Hurricanes (4)
  • Florida Panthers (4) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (1)

Conference Finals

  • Dallas Stars (2) vs Vegas Golden Knights (4)
  • Florida Panthers (4) vs Carolina Hurricanes (0)

Stanley Cup Finals

  • Florida Panthers (1) vs Golden Knights (4)

The games ended as follows:

  • Sat Jun 3 : Panthers (2) at Golden Knights (5) (TNT)
  • Mon Jun 5 : Panthers (2) at Golden Knights (7) (TNT)
  • Thu Jun 8 : Golden Knights (2) at Panthers (3) (TNT)
  • Sat Jun 10 : Golden Knights (3) at Panthers (2) (TNT)
  • Tue Jun 13 : Panthers (3) at Golden Knights (9) (TNT)

Ditch “Big Cable” Now – 3 Simple Steps to Cut the Cord

  1. Pick the right streaming service
  2. Get the content you deserve with the best VPN.
  3. Supercharge your internet provider

That’s it — you’ll save money, take back control, and enjoy TV more!

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