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A lot to my dismay as a Capitals fan, the battle for the Stanley Cup is on. The primary spherical of the 2023 NHL playoffs kicked off final week after a record-breaking season.

The Boston Bruins wowed everybody with a historic 135-point season (and clearly the Presidents’ Trophy), breaking the file for many factors and most wins(opens in a brand new tab) in a single season. However that does not imply they are a shoo-in for the Stanley Cup. Hockey followers know that something can occur within the NHL playoffs. Will the underdog Florida Panthers knock them out within the first spherical? Will the Las Vegas Golden Knights or Seattle Kraken safe their first-ever Cup? Every part is up for grabs.

If you wish to witness the thrill (and frustration) of playoff hockey stay, here is every part it is advisable to know.

When are the playoffs?

The primary spherical kicked off on April 17 with a matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders. Groups typically play each different day, with video games scheduled via Might 1 if obligatory. The dates for the second spherical, third spherical (convention finals), and Stanley Cup remaining will depend upon how the primary sequence pan out. The ultimate will happen roughly between June 8 and June 18. You may take a look at the complete schedule(opens in a brand new tab) on the official NHL web site.

What number of groups are in Stanley Cup playoffs?

A complete of 16 out of 32 NHL groups make it to the playoffs. That is eight groups per convention — the three high groups in every of the 4 divisions, plus two Wild Card groups in every convention.

How does the primary spherical of the NHL playoffs work?

To kick issues off, the primary spherical of the playoffs options eight completely different seven-game sequence. The division winner with probably the most factors in every convention performs the second Wild Card group within the first spherical. In different phrases, the group with probably the most factors will face off towards the group with the fewest factors. The division winner with fewer factors in every convention will play the highest Wild Card group within the first spherical. Every sequence is a best-of-seven format, the place the winner strikes on to the second spherical, bracket-style.

Are the Stanley Cup playoffs on common TV?

You probably have cable or entry to a cable login, you are in luck. Dwell video games will air on TNT, TBS, ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC all through the postseason. Every sequence isn’t strictly designated to 1 broadcaster — for instance, video games in a sequence might air on TBS, ABC, and ESPN inside the identical week. Take a look at the official playoffs schedule on (opens in a brand new tab)NHL.com(opens in a brand new tab) to seek out out which channel to tune into for particular video games.

How can I watch the Stanley Cup playoffs with out cable?

Worry not, wire cutters. You may actually watch the playoffs with out cable, however for the reason that video games are airing throughout a number of networks, it isn’t as reduce and dry as you would possibly suppose. You may join ESPN+ (by itself, as an add-on to Hulu, or via the Disney bundles), however you will solely be capable to watch the video games that air on ESPN and ABC. After all, you will nonetheless get entry to loads of stay video games; you simply would possibly miss out on a vital recreation seven broadcasted solely on TBS, for instance.

For die-hard hockey followers who cannot fathom lacking a stay recreation, your greatest wager is to subscribe to a stay TV streaming service. Completely different from cable, stay TV streamers depend on web and give you a stay channel lineup with out a month-to-month contract. You may cancel any time it now not fits you — no strings hooked up. These providers begin at about $40 per 30 days, which is in no way low-cost, however nonetheless typically extra reasonably priced than a month-to-month cable invoice. Plus, you get your cash’s price with entry to stay and native channels spanning information, sports activities, and leisure. It’s going to serve you lengthy after a group is awarded the coveted Stanley Cup, must you select to maintain your subscription.

To observe video games that air on TNT and TBS stay, non-cable-subscribers will want a stay TV streaming service like Hulu + Dwell TV or Sling TV. Neither of those channels has its personal separate streaming service, so the one option to entry their stay content material at the moment is thru a cable login or a stay TV streaming login. Happily, a few of our high picks have free trials or introductory gives. Listed here are one of the best choices.

Be aware: The one streamers that supply all 5 networks broadcasting the playoffs (ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, and ABC) are Hulu + Dwell TV and YouTube TV in choose areas.

How can I watch NHL playoffs totally free?

Two phrases: free trials. For most individuals, that is the easiest way to get entry to NHL playoff video games totally free — though, you will should be extraordinarily strategic. As soon as you’ve got used up your free trials, there are additionally just a few methods you may rating a streaming subscription for a reduction. When you’re even a little bit bit pc savvy, you can even join a VPN (extra on that beneath) and watch choose video games by way of CBC Sports activities, based mostly in Canada. Hear up, penny pinchers; listed below are your greatest choices.

Are you a Verizon buyer? You probably have a 5G Get Extra or (opens in a brand new tab)5G Play Extra(opens in a brand new tab) plan, you may rating the Disney Bundle Trio Primary — which incorporates ESPN+ — totally free. You may should put up with some adverts, however for zero {dollars}, it is arduous to complain.

YouTube TV(opens in a brand new tab) at the moment gives a free 20-minute preview, then a free five-day trial. To unlock the trial, you will should enter your bank card data. After your 5 days are up (you may keep watch over how a lot time you’ve gotten left(opens in a brand new tab)), you may both cancel or pay $62.99/month in your first three months — that is $30 in financial savings. YouTube TV’s base plan consists of entry to ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, and ABC (in some areas).

Another choice is to unlock a free seven-day trial via fuboTV Professional(opens in a brand new tab), then cancel earlier than you get charged $74.99 for the month. The one draw back is that fuboTV solely offers you entry to ESPN and ESPN2.

Whereas there isn’t any free trial, Sling TV Orange(opens in a brand new tab) is providing your first month for half value at simply $20/month. It is the most cost effective stay TV choice by far, even at full value, and consists of entry to ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, and TNT.

CBC Sports activities(opens in a brand new tab), based mostly in Canada, is streaming choose video games totally free on-line and by way of app. You may want to hook up with a Canadian server via a VPN to get entry to CBC Sports activities, which can value you.

Which VPN is greatest for streaming the Stanley Cup playoffs?

When you select to tune into video games totally free on-line via CBC Sports activities(opens in a brand new tab), you will nonetheless should pay for a VPN. Nevertheless, most VPNs are way more reasonably priced per 30 days than a streaming service. You may also make the most of your VPN subscription to entry US-based streaming in case you’re touring overseas this playoffs season. Win-win. Listed here are the VPNs we suggest for streaming the NHL playoffs.

Our favourite full-featured VPN, ExpressVPN, is at the moment providing three months totally free while you join a yr at simply $6.67/month. It gives an enormous community, together with loads of Canadian servers, a robust dedication to information safety, and a user-friendly app.

Learn our full evaluate of ExpressVPN.

CyberGhost VPN: Save 84% on a 27-month plan(opens in a brand new tab)

New to VPNs? We suggest CyberGhost VPN, a user-friendly and feature-heavy choice with loads of optimized streaming servers. It gives low-cost mounted charges, as Mashable purchasing reporter Haley Henschel famous, and over 450 devoted servers in Canada alone. It is also probably the most reasonably priced choice on the checklist.

Learn our full evaluate of CyberGhost VPN.

Proton VPN: Save 50% on a 2-year Plus plan(opens in a brand new tab)

As Mashable’s Haley Henschel notes, Proton VPN is very dedicated to shopper privateness, making it a high choose for safety sticklers. There are over 40 bodily servers in Canada in case you select the Plus plan, which ought to make streaming the Stanley Cup playoffs by way of CBC Sports activities fairly simple.

Learn our full evaluate of ProtonVPN.

NordVPN Normal: Save 75% on a 27-month Normal plan(opens in a brand new tab)

NordVPN gives an unequalled suite of safety features, a Menace Safety characteristic, and over 4800 servers in three completely different Canadian cities. It isn’t your best option in case you’re new to VPNs, but it surely’s full of options, is well-known, and at the moment on sale for simply $3.29/month for 27 months.

Learn our full evaluate of NordVPN.

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