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When Do the 2021 NHL Playoffs Start? Schedule, Start Date and Delays for 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Adam Taylor McKillop
When do the 2021 NHL Playoffs start?
When do the 2021 NHL Playoffs start? / Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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The NHL is approaching the finale of its regular season, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the start of the 2021 NHL Playoffs. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are expected to start this week with a first game scheduled for May 15.

When Will the 2021 NHL playoffs start?

Originally, the 2021 NHL Playoffs were set to begin on May 11, but the league has been forced to postpone the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The regular season was extended until May 19, however, some teams have already completed their regular season schedule.

Teams from the East and Central divisions have completed their schedules. The 2021 NHL Playoffs are already restructured due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada. This included a league-wide realignment into four separate divisions. This season, the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played within these new divisions.

Why Are the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Delayed?

The 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are delayed after the NHL was forced to reschedule 53 games due to COVID-19. The Vancouver Canucks were one of the hardest-hit teams with eight games postponed during the regular season.

2021 NHL Playoffs Schedule

The Canucks, and the remainder of the league's North Division, should finish their 56-game schedule by May 19. The 2021 NHL Playoffs will continue to update based on each team concluding their full regular season schedules.

When Does First Round of 2021 NHL Playoffs Start?

While the league waits on several of its divisions to finish their regular season schedules, both the East and Central divisions have finished up. This has allowed the league to officially schedule a first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

Boston and Washington will kick off the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday, May 15.

How will the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Work?

As mentioned before, the first two rounds of the NHL Playoffs will be played completely within a team's division. The first round consists of the first place team in each division squaring off against the fourth place team. Additionally, the second place and third place teams will compete. The next round features a matchup between the winning teams from each series.

From there, four teams will advance into the Stanley Cup Semifinals round. These four teams will be reseeded based on regular season point totals.

When do the 2021 NHL Playoffs Begin?

As of now, the NHL has announced the official matchups for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The West Division standings are not final yet - so those first round matchups could still change. But, the start dates have been announced for each division.

East Division: (1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (4) New York Islanders - Sunday, May 16
East Division:
(2) Washington Capitals vs (3) Boston Bruins - Saturday, May 15
Central Division:
(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs (4) Nashville Predators - Monday, May 17
Central Division:
(2) Florida Panthers vs (3) Tampa Bay Lightning - Sunday, May 16
North Division:
(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs (4) Montreal Canadiens - Thursday, May 20
North Division:
(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) Winnipeg Jets - Wednesday, May 19
West Division:
(1) Colorado Avalanche/Vegas Golden Knights vs (4) St. Louis Blues - Monday, May 17
West Division:
(2) Colorado Avalanche/Vegas Golden Knights vs (3) Minnesota Wild - Sunday, May 16

Who Will Win the 2021 Stanley Cup?

As of now, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are the leading betting favorites to take home the 2021 Stanley Cup title. FanDuel Sportsbook gives the Avalanche +450 odds and the Golden Knights +550 odds to take home the Stanley Cup, according to the latest NHL odds.


Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk free for up to $1,000!


Adam Taylor McKillop is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Adam Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username atmckillop. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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