It’s official — the NHL Stanley Cup is just about ready to be awarded. The playoffs began mid-May in 2021, but you still have time. If you don’t have cable, you might be wondering if it’s even possible to watch the NHL Playoffs online. With live streaming services like FuboTV, you can finally watch the playoffs from devices like tablets, smart TVs, and mobile phones.
Cable cutters have several streaming services to choose from — most of these offer a free trial so you may be able to catch the semi-finals live without paying a single dollar.
Even though you’re going to need a few channels to do it, everything you need to watch the NHL playoffs online is available without cable. So, whether you’ve cut the cord recently or you’re just thinking about it, read on to discover all of the ways you can watch the NHL playoffs without cable.
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Channels You Need to Watch NHL Playoffs Without Cable
The official schedule for the NHL Playoffs games live stream have been released, and, as always, you’ll need a few different networks if you want the most playoff coverage.
The networks that air the NHL playoffs include the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), NBC, USA, and the NHL Network. Some of these channels are easier to find than others. But they are all available without cable.
Here’s a quick overview of which streaming services offer channels that will show NHL Playoffs games in the US:
|Price/mo||from $35||from $64.99||from $64.99|
Sling TV is the cheapest option to catch the NHL Playoffs, since the Sports Extra add-on still keeps the bill under $50 per month. FuboTV’s Elite plan is $79.99 per month, so unless you want to make use of its features, it’s an expensive choice, but it does offer all five channels. (You can also get this with the $7.99 Fubo Extra add-on for a total of $72.98.) Hulu doesn’t offer NHL Network, but it still has the other four channels.
Read on to find out which other streaming services offer all the channels you need.
With an antenna, you should be able to watch games that are broadcast on NBC. Other than that, the streaming services listed below are going to be the only legal way to watch the NHL playoffs online.
Even if you’re unfamiliar to streaming, you should find the details you need here to successfully signup for a service that offers the NHL playoffs online, including the Stanley Cup Finals.
Local channel access through streaming services can be spotty in some areas, but many areas will have NBC access. Even if you don’t, most services offer on-demand coverage nationwide.
Most of the mentioned streaming services that cover at least three of the necessary channels to watch the NHL Playoffs offer free trials, so take it easy and pick what works after trying it out.
How to Watch NHL Playoffs Without Cable: At a Glance
The hardest part about streaming the NHL playoffs without cable is making sure you have access to all of the channels you need. Luckily, there are a few streaming services that provide access to each of the required channels, so you’d be able to watch the NHL playoffs online through one app.
The good news is that you don’t need more than one streaming service to watch the playoffs because there’s an option that has all channels in a single plan. To get you started, see the summary below of the streaming service plans that might work for you to catch the playoffs this year.
- FuboTV (free 7-day trial) is a good choice when it comes to streaming most sports. For $79.99 a month you’ll get over 160 channels including more than 50 sports channels. This package includes the NBC live stream in most areas. With FuboTV you get NBCSN, NHL Network, USA, and CNBC. This is a great package for sports fans who love the broad range of sports. In most areas, you’ll have local and international sports coverage. FuboTV works on most streaming and mobile devices.
- Hulu + Live TV offers one package, but it has over 70 channels alongside Hulu’s on-demand service. The base plan is $64.99 without a contract. If you want to watch the NHL playoffs, you’ll have access to CNBC, NBCSN, and USA. NBC is also included in most areas. Still, most homes will have live stream access. The only channel missing is NHL Network. Hulu also offers a free trial.
- YouTube TV is another option. As with Hulu, the only missing channel on YouTube TV is NHL Network. All other four channels are there to stream. YouTube TV also costs $64.99 per month. They do not provide access to NHL Network, however.
- Sling TV is the cheapest cable-free choice to watch most of the NHL Playoff games in 2021. For $35/mo, you can get the Sling Blue plan which offers three of the five necessary channels. For $11 extra, you can get the Sports Extra add-on and you’ll have NHL Network. If you want CNBC, that is available for $6 with the News Extra add-on. So to get all 5 channels, Sling TV would cost you $52 per month.
- AT&T TV also has a plan that offers the five necessary channels, though it’s more than twice the price of some of the mentioned services at $94.99 per month. It comes with 130+ channels, including NHL Network, NBCSN, CNBC, USA, and NBC is most areas.
Choosing a Streaming Service for the NHL Playoffs
Each streaming service offers one or more plans with a number of channels. These can be supplemented with add-ons. For example, Sling TV is more customizable than YouTube TV, but YouTube TV has a strong base plan.
Now let’s look at how such streaming services are different from conventional cable deals:
- Contract vs No Contract: Most cable companies require you to agree to a contract. This gives you a set price for the length of the contract. When it’s up, your price usually goes up, too. This creates a system where new subscribers get the lowest available prices and loyal customers get stuck with a rising bill. Streaming services don’t require contracts. Everyone that has the same package, pays the same price.
- Add-On Fees vs Base Fee: Cable charges you a package price, just like streaming services do. However, you require a cable box or satellite dish to watch TV. As they consider you’re renting the equipment, they charge a fee for each set and the installation, even on multiple TVs. Streaming services don’t have fees like this. If your package is $40, other than tax, that’s what you’ll pay. The only way your package costs more is if you add upgrades to your package as we mentioned with Sling TV’s Sports Extra plan for the NHL Network.
- Useful Extras: Both cable and streaming services allow you to add additional channels to your package. Streaming services offer on-demand libraries that allows you to view previously aired content, but some cable packages allow that, as well. Both types of services offer DVR access, too. However, with cable, that usually costs you more money. All streaming services offer cloud-DVRs in their plans. The only way you pay more for having a DVR is if you want more space than they offer.
Otherwise, the process is how it’s always been. Just tune into the channel you want to watch and enjoy the show! You can learn more about streaming devices in our streaming devices guide.
- A variety of packages allow you to choose the channels you want for less money
- The average streaming service is about $60 a month while cable is over $100
- Stream on everything from your TV to your cell phone
- Start with a free trial and if you’re not satisfied cancel at any time.
Now onto the available services where you can watch NHL playoffs without cable.
Best Streaming Plans to Watch the NHL Playoffs In 2021
Here are the top streaming service offers that allow you to watch most of the 2021 NHL Playoffs games without cable. The aim of these mini-reviews is to give you an overview of what else you get alongside the channels you’re after for the playoffs since you’re paying money for more than just that.
FuboTV: All Five Channels of the NHL Playoffs and More
|NHL Playoff Channels||CNBC, NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network*, USA|
|Cloud DVR||250 hours|
|Multiscreen Stream||3 to 10|
FuboTV is one of your best bets if you want more sports in your streaming package. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to watch sports online with ESPN, Fox Sports, and a huge number of more focused sports channels.
FuboTV’s on-demand library holds most games and programs for at least three days after it airs live. This means if you miss a game you can watch it on-demand. You’ll also have a cloud-DVR, so you can record things before you miss them! You can stream FuboTV on mobile devices (iOS, Android), Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and more!
See more in our FuboTV review where we explain the ins and outs of the service.
Hulu + Live TV: Watch the NHL Playoffs Online
|NHL Playoff Channels||CNBC, NBC, NBCSN, USA|
|Cloud DVR||50 hours|
|Multiscreen Stream||2 to Unlimited|
Hulu Live is a great choice for current Hulu users because they can add live TV and still only have one streaming cost. It also provides excellent support of streaming devices including older and unusual ones.
If you’re a cord cutter, Hulu Live offers many of the most popular channels, which will make cutting the cord easier. Two of the few downsides are the low DVR storage and limited two multiscreen streams with the base plan, but those can be fixed with Hulu’s add-ons.
Hulu Live works on Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, and mobile devices. You can watch some of the NHL playoffs for free during your Hulu Live trial.
Our Hulu with Live TV review has more details.
YouTube TV: Watch the NHL Playoffs Without Cable
|NHL Playoff Channels||CNBC, NBC, NBCSN, USA|
YouTube TV presents another option. For $64.99 per month, you get 85+ channels including a mix of local, sports, and national cable networks. This includes channels like NBCSN, USA, and others. NHL Network is not included, though that’s a channel that’s also missing from Hulu.
Every package includes a cloud-DVR with unlimited storage and an on-demand library. You can make user profiles for the whole family and stream on most devices.
See our YouTube TV review for a more precise breakdown of what you get.
Sling TV: Cheaply Stream the NHL Playoffs Without Cable
|NHL Playoff Channels||CNBC*, NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network**, USA|
|Cloud DVR||50 hours|
Sling TV is the cheapest option on this list. It’s also usually the cheapest option where sports streaming is concerned.
For $35 per month you can get Sling Blue, which offers NBC (live in select markets), NBCSN, and USA. From there you can add on Sports Extra for $11, which includes NHL Network. And you can add on News Extra for $6, which includes CNBC.
You will be able to stream on most devices with up to 3 streaming at the same time. A cloud-DVR is available with 50 hours of storage. As with other competing services, an on-demand library is included.
You can learn more from our Sling TV review and see how you can customize this inexpensive plan to match or even beat some of the more exclusive streaming services.
AT&T TV Ultimate: Watch the NHL Playoffs and More
|NHL Playoff Channels||CNBC, NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network, USA|
|Cloud DVR||20 hours|
It’s fair to say that AT&T Ultimate is only a plan to consider as a solution to stream the NHL Playoffs is if you’re in the market for 130+ channels and want to stream from many devices on one account.
AT&T’s Ultimate plan allows 20 streams from one account. They also offer unlimited DVR storage for an extra $10/mon.
As for the NHL Playoffs, you get all five channels: CNBC, NBC (in most areas), NBCSN, USA, and NHL Network.
A near $100/month plan is expensive, and if you’re cutting cable to save money, this might not be what you seek. Still, it’s a trusted provider and you still have plenty of ground for comparison to see if you’re getting your money’s worth.
Read our AT&T TV review if you’re curious about what else the service has to offer.
How Do The NHL Playoffs Work?
Perhaps you’re new to hockey or the NHL Playoffs and have no idea how the rounds are structured.
The first thing to know is that the top four teams are seeded from four divisions, namely, the Central, East, West, and North.
The tournament itself is split into four segments:
- First Round
- Second Round
- Stanley Cup Semi-Finals
- Stanley Cup Final
Each round consists of a best-of-seven series structure. The higher-placed team gets the home-ice advantage on games 1, 2, 5, and 7. The lower-placed team gets the home-ice advantage on games 3, 4, and 6.
For the 2021 NHL Playoffs, the following teams were seeded to make the first round:
- Central Division
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Florida Panthers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Nashville Predators
- East Division
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Washington Capitals
- Boston Bruins
- New York Islanders
- West Division
- Colorado Avalanche
- Vegas Golden Knights
- Minnesota Wild
- St Louis Blues
- North Division
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Edmonton Oilers
- Winnipeg Jets
- Montreal Canadiens
Still need some help learning how to watch the NHL playoffs and other events online? We’re here to do what we can! If your question is service specific, feel free to check out more cable alternatives.
We also have several streaming service comparisons where you can see what’s on the table — service comparisons are a smart way to predetermine value for your money.
As we mentioned throughout this review, Sling TV is a versatile service so we’ve compared it to several others in various price ranges:
- See how Sling TV fares alongside FuboTV
- Read this Sling TV vs Philo review
- Check out Sling TV vs YouTube TV
- Find out how AT&T compares to Sling TV
- Check out Hulu + Live TV vs Sling TV
We also have other useful articles on the best devices to stream with when you go cable-free, like this Roku Stick vs Chromecast review.
Do I need NHL Network to watch the playoffs?
According to the official event schedhule, the majority of the NHL Playoff games are shown on NBC Sports, so you won’t actually miss much if you pass on NHL Network. Still, if you want to see a specific game or team, you’d better check the official Stanley Cup schedule and come back here to find the channel-service combination that you need.
When do the NHL playoffs start?
The NHL playoffs in 2021 started on May 15th and will end with the playoff finals for the Stanley Cup sometime in July. When the Stanley Cup will be awarded depends on the date on which the finals take place. Fans and viewers will know once the semi-finals have been played.
How do the NHL playoffs work?
The NHL playoffs consist of four separate rounds and a total of 16 teams from four divisions. Teams are seeded based on their performance in the Central, West, East, and North divisions. Then, they play a best-of-seven series of games, right up until the final.
How do I watch NHL without cable?
You can watch the NHL without cable in several sports channels via online streaming services. In the instance of the NHL playoffs, you need NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA, and the NHL Network. Some services like FuboTV offer all of these channels in one, while most have at least one missing. See our NHL cable-free guide for more.
Can I watch NHL playoffs on Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime does not support the necessary live channels for you to watch the NHL playoffs. It is an on-demand service like Netflix. At best, Amazon Prime will have historical recordings of past NHL seasons where you may be able to stream classic Stanley Cup bouts on-demand.
Can I watch NHL playoffs on Hulu?
Yes, you can watch the NHL playoffs with Hulu’s + Live TV plan. With the exception of NHL Network, you get access to 70+ channels, including CNBC, NBC, NBCSN, and USA for $64.99 per month. You can also stream the games in a picture-in-picture mode and browse other channels.