Cord-cutters’ guide to watching the Stanley Cup playoffs without cable


Of the four main North American sports leagues, the NHL experienced the most disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-21 season was reduced to 56 games and the start pushed back from October to January.

Because of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the league realigned its divisions; its seven Canadian teams were placed into one North Division and its U.S. teams organized into West, Central, and East divisions. Teams played games solely within their division all season, with the top four teams in each qualifying for the playoffs.

The regular season was set to end on May 8 and the Stanley Cup playoffs to start May 11. But in early April, 22 players and four staff members of the Vancouver Canucks tested positive for a variant of the coronavirus and had eight games postponed. The playoffs were pushed back indefinitely for the team to make up those games. That has resulted in a staggered regular-season ending.

Wrapping your head around all those changes is as dizzying as a Scott Stevens hip check. Fortunately, watching the games should be much more straightforward for cord-cutters. Games will air nationally on NBCSN and NBC, with select games on CNBC, USA Network, and NHL Network. You can catch just about all of these games with one of the streaming services below.

Sling TV

Sling TV offers NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and USA, and you can get them together in the Sling Blue package for $35 a month. To watch the NHL network as well, you’ll have to get the Sports Extra package for an additional $11 a month.

Sling TV typically includes device discounts with prepaid commitments. Currently, you can get a free AirTV Mini or a discounted RCA HDTV Indoor Antenna and AirTV Bundle when you subscribe and prepay for two months of Sling TV. Prepay for three months, and you can get an AirTV 2 and HD Antenna bundle or an AirTV Anywhere and HD Antenna.

AT&T TV

AT&T TV also offers NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA, and the NHL Network, and you can get them all in its Ultimate package for $95 a month.

attfoxsports Jared Newman / IDG

AT&T TV’s Ultimate package is your ticket to a rink-side seat for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If your sports viewing extends beyond hockey, AT&T might be the best streaming service for you year round. Over the last two years, Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV have all dropped regional sports networks like Fox Sports regional networks (now Bally Sports Networks) and NBC Regional Sports Networks from their product offerings. Not only is AT&T TV the only one to stream these, but it’s also the service with the most regional sports network coverage overall, including the NBC Sports regional networks, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, New England Sports Network, YES Network, and Spectrum SportsNet LA. It also offers ESPN, FS1, TBS, and MLB Network.



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