How to Watch The NHL Playoffs Live For Free to See Who Wins In The First Round


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If you follow sports closely, you’ll know that it’s time for postseason hockey. Fans all around the world will be sitting on the edge of their seats during the NHL playoffs. Whether you’re new to the sport or have been following it since forever, you’re likely wondering how to watch the NHL playoffs live for free to see who takes home this year’s Stanley Cup trophy.

The Stanley Cup playoffs is how the National Hockey League (NHL) determines the league champion each year. The elimination tournament is named after the trophy that the winning team receives. The NHL playoffs first took place as an event held on a challenge basis in 1893. It became a prearranged inter-league competition in 1915 and then became known solely as the NHL postseason in 1927. The Las Vegas Knights are the reigning champions and qualified for the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. However, the Montreal Canadiens have the most championship titles than any other NHL team (24).

16 teams will compete in the first round of the 2024 NHL playoffs, starting in late April. Following the first round is the second round and then the conference championships (one team wins the Eastern Conference and one team wins the Western Conference). The 2023-2024 NHL season culminates in the conference champions going head to head in the Stanley Cup Finals in early June.

Calling all hockey fans, it’s time for the NHL postseason, and you’re not going to want to miss a single second of the action. So, continue reading to discover how to watch the NHL playoffs to stay up-to-date on which teams are inching closer and closer to the coveted Stanley Cup trophy.

NHL Playoffs Bracket 2024

See above for the NHL playoffs bracket for 2024. In the first round of the playoffs for the Eastern Conference, you’ve got the Florida Panthers vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers vs. the Washington Capitals, and the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New York Islanders. In the first round of the playoffs for the Western Conference, you’ve got the Dallas Stars vs. the Las Vegas Knights, the Winnipeg Jets vs. the Colorado Avalanche, the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Nashville Predators, and the Edmonton Oilers vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

Ivan Miroshnichenko #63 of the Washington Capitals collides with Joel Edmundson #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Capital One Arena on March 20, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

When do the NHL playoffs start?

The 2024 NHL playoffs start on Saturday, April 20 and the Stanley Cup Finals start on Monday, June 3. The NHL playoffs will air on ABC, TBS, TNT, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN+.

How to watch the NHL playoffs live for free

The NHL playoffs air on ABC, TBS, TNT, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN+, which are available to stream on services like DirecTV Stream, Fubo, Sling TV, ESPN+, and Hulu+ With Live TV. DirecTV Stream offers a five-day free trial, and starts at $79.99 per month after the trial ends. Fubo offers a seven-day free trial, and starts at $79.99 per month after the trial ends. While Sling TV and Hulu+ With Live TV don’t have free trials, they are cheaper per month than the other options. Sling TV starts at $20 for your first month and Hulu+ With Live TV starts at $68.99 per month. Hulu+ With Live TV offers plans that include free subscriptions to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.

Best Overall Pick to Watch the NHL Playoffs: DirecTV Stream’s Free Trial

Direct TV is our best overall pick to watch the NHL playoffs for free for its free trial, price, and channel selection. DirecTV Stream offers a five-day free trial. DirecTV offers four plans: Entertainment, which costs $79.99 per month; Choice, which costs $108.99 per month with the first two months at $83.99 per month; Ultimate, which costs $84.99 per month with the first two months at $94.99 per month; and Premiere, which costs $159.99 per month.

As for other differences between the plans, Entertainment includes more than 75 channels, the ability to stream on unlimited devices in your home, unlimited cloud DVR storage, and a special offer on premium channels. Choice, which is the most popular plan, includes more than 105 channels, regional sports networks, and everything included in Entertainment. Ultimate includes more than 140 channels and everything included in Entertainment and Choice. Premiere includes more than 150 channels including premium channels like HBO and Starz and everything included in Entertainment, Choice, and Premiere. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to watch the NHL playoffs with DirecTV Stream’s free trial. 

  1. Visit streamtv.directv.com‘s packages page
  2. Click “Try It Free” for the plan of your choice
  3. Enter your information and payment method
  4. Search for ABC, TNT, TBS, ESPN, or ESPN2 and start watching the NHL playoffs

Best Free Trial Pick to Watch the NHL Playoffs: Fubo’s Free Trial

Fubo is our best free trial pick to watch the NHL playoffs live for free. Fubo offers a seven-day free trial (two days longer than DirecTV Stream) and offers offers two plans: Pro, which costs $79.99 per month; and Elite, which costs $89.99 per month.

As for the difference between the plans, Pro includes 180 channels, 1,000 hours of Cloud DVR, and the ability to watch on up to 10 screens at once. Elite includes everything in Pro, as well as a total of 256 channels and 4K resolution. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to watch the NHL playoffs with Fubo’s free trial. 

  1. Visit Fubo.TV
  2. Click “Start Free Trial”
  3. Enter your information and payment method
  4. Search for ABC, TNT, TBS, ESPN, or ESPN2 and start watching the NHL playoffs

Best Upgrade Pick to Watch the NHL Playoffs: Sling TV

Sling TV is our best budget pick to watch the NHL playoffs for its channel selection. Sling TV offers three plans: Sling Orange for $30 for your first month and $40 per month after that; Sling Blue for $35 for your first month and $45 per month after that; and Sling Orange + Blue for $50 for your first month and $60 per month after that.

As for the differences between the plans, Sling Orange, which is most suited toward sports and family channels, includes 32 channels and the ability to stream on one device at a time. Sling Blue, which is most suited toward news and entertainment channels, includes 42 channels and the ability to stream on three devices at a time. Sling Orange + Blue includes all the channels offered on both Sling Orange and Sling Blue, as well as the ability to stream on three devices at a time. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to watch the NHL playoffs with Sling TV.

  1. Visit Sling.com
  2. Click “Try Us Today”
  3. Create an account
  4. Select your plan
  5. Enter your payment information and check out
  6. Search for ABC, TNT, TBS, ESPN, or ESPN2 and start watching the NHL playoffs

Best Pick to Watch NHL Playoffs Playbacks: ESPN+

ESPN Plus is our best pick to watch NHL playoffs playbacks. Select playoff games airing on ABC and ESPN will simultaneously stream live on ESPN Plus, which will also show game replays of every Stanley Cup playoff game. ESPN Plus costs $9.99 per month for a monthly plan or $99.99 per year for a yearly plan, which saves customers about 17 percent or $20 from the monthly rate.

ESPN Plus is also included in The Disney Bundle, which offers three plans: Duo Basic for $9.99 per month (which includes ad-supported plans of Hulu and Disney Plus; Trio Basic for $12.99 per month (which includes ad-supported plans of Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus); and Trio Premium for $19.99 per month (which includes ad-free plans for Hulu, and Disney Plus and an ad-supported plan of ESPN Plus). The Duo Basic saves subscribers $5.98 per month from subscribing to Hulu and Disney Plus’ ad-supported plans individually; Trio Basic saves subscribers $12.99 per month from subscribing to Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus’ ad-supported plans individually; and Trio Premium saves subscribers $15.98 per month from subscribing to Hulu and Disney Plus’ no-ads plans and ESPN Plus’ ad-supported plan individually.

ESPN Plus also comes for free with Hulu+ With live TV costs $69.99 per month for its ad-supported plan and $82.99 per month for its no-ads plan. Hulu+ With Live TV’s ad-supported plan comes with free ad-supported plans of Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, while Hulu+ With Live TV’s no-ads plan comes with free no-ads plans of Hulu and Disney Plus and an ad-supported plan of ESPN Plus. Hulu+ With Live TV’s ad-supported plan saves users $25.97 per month from subscribing to Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus individually, while Hulu+ With Live TV’s no-ads plan saves users $35.97 per month.

  1. Visit ESPN Plus’ website
  2. Click “Get the Disney Bundle” or “Subscribe to ESPN+ only”
  3. Create an account
  4. Select your plan and insert your payment information
  5. Log into your account and start watching the NHL playoffs

Best Upgrade Pick to Watch the NHL Playoffs: Hulu+ Live TV

Hulu+ With Live TV is our best upgrade pick to watch the NHL playoffs based on its channel selection and its free subscriptions to Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus. Hulu+ With Live TV offers four plans: a $68.99 per month plan with access to only live TV; a $69.99 per month plan with free subscriptions to Hulu with ads, Disney Plus with ads, and ESPN Plus with ads; a $74.99 per month plan with free subscriptions to Hulu with ads, Disney Plus with no ads, and ESPN Plus with ads; and a $82.99 per month plan with free subscriptions to Hulu with no ads, Disney Plus with no ads, and ESPN Plus with ads. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to watch the NHL playoffs with Hulu+ Live TV.

  1. Visit Hulu.com/liveTV
  2. Click “Sign Up Now”
  3. Enter your information and payment method
  4. Search for ABC, TNT, TBS, ESPN, or ESPN2 and start watching the NHL playoffs
Barclay Goodrow #21 of the New York Rangers skates against Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2023 in New York City.
 Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images.Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images.

2024 NHL Playoffs Game Schedule

Here is the remaining schedule for the first round of the NHL playoffs:

First Round

  • Wednesday, 05/01 at 7 p.m. ET – Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars
  • Wednesday, 05/01 at 10 p.m. ET – Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers
  • Thursday, 05/02 at 8 p.m. ET – Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Friday, 05/03 at TBD – Dallas Stars vs Vegas Golden Knights
  • Friday, 05/03 at TBD – Vancouver Canucks vs Nashville Predators
  • Friday, 05/03 at TBD – Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers
  • Saturday, 05/04 at TBD – Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins
  • Sunday, 05/05 at TBD – Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars
  • Sunday, 05/05 at TBD – Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers
  • Sunday, 05/05 at TBD – Vancouver Canucks vs Nashville Predators

Which teams are in the NHL playoffs?

So which teams are in the NHL playoffs? Four teams from each of the four divisions (so eight teams from each of the two conferences) qualify for the playoffs based on their regular season points totals. Who competes in the Stanley Cup Finals? The two conference champions face off in the final round of the NHL playoffs. Below, find the 16 teams that qualified for the 2024 NHL playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic

  • Florida Panthers (52-24) – 110 points
  • Boston Bruins (47-20) – 109 points
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (46-26) – 102 points
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (45-29) – 98 points

Metropolitan

  • New York Rangers (55-23) – 114 points
  • Carolina Hurricanes (52-23) – 111 points
  • New York Islanders (39-27) – 94 points
  • Washington Capitals (40-31) – 91 points

Western Conference

Central

  • Dallas Stars (52-21) – 113 points
  • Winnipeg Jets (52-24) – 110 points
  • Colorado Avalanche (50-25) – 107 points
  • Nashville Predators (47-30) – 99 points

Pacific

  • Vancouver Canucks (50-23) – 109 points
  • Edmonton Oilers (49-27) – 104 points
  • Los Angeles Kings (44-27) – 99 points
  • Las Vegas Golden Knights (45-29) – 98 points





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