The NHL returns to a more traditional playoff schedule

Four Canadian teams in the playoffs will likely fuel a cross-country ratings boost.

After the NHL staged a 24-team, pandemic bubble-based tournament to determine the Stanley Cup winner last year, and following recent COVID-related postponements, hockey fans will see a return to a more traditional 16-team event in 2021, with the first two rounds starting off as intradivisional tilts.

The first round faces off Saturday, May 15 on Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, CBC, FX, FXX and OMNI, across the Sportsnet Radio Network and streaming on SN Now and  NHL Live.

Four teams out of Canada’s Scotia North Division will compete for a trip to the Conference Finals. The first round series between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets begins on May 19, while the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens will make a new entry in their historic rivalry on May 20. Both series will air on Sportsnet’s TV, radio and streaming platforms.

Having four Canadian teams in the playoffs will surely be a boon to ratings – last year’s expanded format allowed six to enter the playoffs, though only three made it past the qualifying round. In 2019, three Canadian teams made it into the playoffs.

North Division

Toronto Maple Leafs (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (4)

Game 1: Thursday, May 20, Montreal @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and CBC
Game 2: Saturday, May 22, Montreal @ Toronto, 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet, CBC, OMNI and 680 News
Game 3: Monday, May 24, Toronto @ Montreal, TBD on Sportsnet, CBC and SN590
Game 4: Tuesday, May 25, Toronto @ Montreal, TBD on Sportsnet and CBC

Edmonton Oilers (2) vs. Winnipeg Jets (3)

Game 1: Wednesday, May 19, Winnipeg @ Edmonton, 9 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and CBC
Game 2: Friday, May 21, Winnipeg @ Edmonton, 9 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and CBC
Game 3: Sunday, May 23, Edmonton @ Winnipeg, TBD on Sportsnet and CBC
Game 4: Monday, May 24, Edmonton @ Winnipeg, TBD on Sportsnet and CBC

East Division

Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. New York Islanders (4)

Game 1: Sunday, May 16, NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh, 12 p.m. ET on Sportsnet
Game 2: Tuesday, May 18, NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One, Sportsnet and CBC
Game 3: Thursday, May 20, Pittsburgh @ NY Islanders, 7 p.m. ET on SN360
Game 4: Saturday, May 22, Pittsburgh @ NY Islanders, 3 p.m. ET on Sportsnet

Washington Capitals (2) vs. Boston Bruins (3)

Game 1: Saturday, May 15, Boston @ Washington, 7 p.m. on Sportsnet, CBC and OMNI
Game 2: Monday, May 17, Boston @ Washington, 7:30 p.m. ET Sportsnet One, Sportsnet and CBC
Game 3: Wednesday, May 19, Washington @ Boston, 6:30 p.m. on Sportsnet One, Sportsnet and SN360
Game 4: Friday, May 21, Washington @ Boston, 6:30 p.m. Sportsnet One, Sportsnet and SN360