The NHL Playoffs are a go! Starting Monday, April 17, hockey’s best duke it out for the ultimate in pro puck-slinging honors. And you can watch almost every game on Sling TV for half the price of anywhere else. Read on for details!
In a hurry? Sling Orange has ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, and TNT, which are the four channels the vast majority of games will be on, all for just $40.00/mo, as well as 50 hours of DVR storage so you can record the ET game while watching the ET game (or vice versa!)
Sling TV has all the channels you need to watch 98% of the First Round playoff games, plus the entire Finals round. A handful (less than 10) matches will be aired on ABC, which is only carried on Sling Blue in eight media markets across the country. We’ll share which markets have ABC, and what the workaround is if you don’t live in one of those markets.
For more information on how to see for yourself if Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid will join the elite level of players to score 40+ points in the postseason (only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have managed it so far), keep reading.
An Overview of the NHL Playoffs
The Stanley Cup Playoffs, aka the NHL Playoffs, consists of sixteen teams (at the start) competing in best-of-seven series to advance to the next round. There are four rounds in total, with each round halving the number of teams participating.
We’ll get to the rounds’ format and structure further down, but let’s look at the teams first, and their standings at the end of the NHL season.
The Teams and Regular Season Standings
Each Conference — Eastern and Western — is divided into two Divisions of eight teams each: Atlantic and Metropolitan in the East and Central and Pacific in the West. The top three teams from each Division automatically enter the playoffs (six total from each Conference). Each Conference also has two wildcard slots, which go to the top two remaining teams.
The Eastern Conference regular season champions are the Boston Bruins, who are also the Atlantic Division champions. At 135 points for the season (an NHL record), they are far and away the top-ranked team in the standings, making them also the recipients of this year’s Presidents’ Trophy. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning are the other two Atlantic Division teams.
The Western Conference regular season champs are the Vegas Golden Knights, who are also the champions of the Pacific Division. The Edmonton Oilers (league leaders in assists this season, thanks to McDavid) and Los Angeles Kings took the other two top Pacific slots.
Teams Eliminated from the Playoffs:
- Calgary Flames
- Nashville Predators
- Vancouver Canucks
- St. Louis Blues
- Arizona Coyotes
- San Jose Sharks
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Anaheim Ducks
The NHL Playoffs are played in four rounds. At the time of this writing, we have just finished all the first games of the first round, and each series is proceeding to Game 2.
The lower seeded wildcard team from each Conference plays the higher-ranked Division winner, and the other wildcard plays the other Division winner. The 2-seeds and 3-seeds from each Division play each other (the #2 and #3 of the Atlantic division face off, and so forth).
Home-rink advantage is with the team with the better seed in the first two rounds, and the team that had the better regular season record after that.
Playoff series are played, as mentioned, in best-of-seven series, so only the first four games are guaranteed to be played. There can be anywhere from 32 (if all eight first-round series are resolved in four games) to 56 (if all eight series need all seven games) games in the First Round.
These are the First Round matchups and rankings for this year’s playoff bracket.
- #1 Atlantic Boston Bruins (BOS) vs WC2 Florida Panthers (FLA)
- #2 Atlantic Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR) vs #3 Atlantic Tampa Bay Lightning (TBL)
- #1 Metropolitan Carolina Hurricanes (CAR) vs WC1 New York Islanders (NYI)
- #2 Metropolitan New Jersey Devils (NJD) vs #3 Metropolitan New York Rangers (NYR)
- #1 Central Colorado Avalanche (COL) vs WC1 Seattle Kraken (SEA)
- #2 Central Dallas Stars (DAL) vs #3 Central Minnesota Wild (MIN)
- #1 Pacific Vegas Golden Knights (VGK) vs WC2 Winnipeg Jets (WPG)
- #2 Pacific Edmonton Oilers (EDM) vs #3 Pacific Los Angeles Kings (LAK)
This round is also called the Conference Semifinals. Eight teams eliminated, eight teams remain, four from each conference. That means two series for each conference, between 16 and 28 games.
The third round is similar to the AFC and NFC championships in the NFL — this determines the Eastern and Western Conference Champions and the two teams that will duke it out at the Stanley Cup Final.
Stanley Cup Finals
The fourth and final round is the last best-of-seven series to determine the league champion and, as the name implies, the recipient of the Stanley Cup.
Watching the Playoffs on Sling TV
This year, ABC will air one Saturday evening game per week. As of right now, in the first round, only one game is scheduled to be on ABC, Game 3 of the Rangers versus the Devils, Saturday, April 22, at .
ABC is included in Sling Blue in the following eight media markets:
- WABC-TV New York
- KABC-TV Los Angeles
- WLS-TV Chicago
- WPVI-TV Philadelphia,
- KGO-TV San Francisco
- KTRK-TV Houston
- WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham
- KFSN-TV Fresno
Here’s the rub, though: ESPN and ESPN2 are only on Sling Orange, and the ABC channels (where available) are only on Sling Blue. To get all of them, you’d need Sling Orange + Blue, which is $55.00/mo. It’s still a good deal, but there is another way.
Sling TV actively encourages the use of an HD antenna with their service to supplement the local channels they don’t provide. First-time users can prepay two months and get a free antenna, or a huge discount on a streaming device optimized for Sling that will integrate local channels into your Sling TV interface.
Sling TV is the cheapest service that carries ESPN. And Fubo may bill itself as a sports-first service, but it doesn’t include the Turner networks that NHL, NBA, and NCAA basketball playoffs are broadcast on. Sling does, at half the price. Sign up for Sling TV today!
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Changes to some sections.