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2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs to start May 15

Regular-season schedule extended to May 19 after Canucks COVID-19 outbreak

by Mike Battaglino / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will start May 15 when the Boston Bruins play at the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup First Round series (7:15 ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). 

The NHL regular season was scheduled to end May 8, and the playoffs were scheduled to begin May 11, but those dates were pushed back to accommodate rescheduled games for the Vancouver Canucks, who had eight games postponed after a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.

Games in the Scotia North Division, made up of the seven Canada-based teams, will end May 19. Each team is expected to complete its 56-game schedule even though the four playoff berths in the division have been clinched.

The rest of the postseason schedule has not been announced, but NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in addition to the MassMutual East Division starting its series before the end of the regular season, the Discover Central and Honda West could do the same. 

Daly said the North Division playoffs could start as early as May 19.   

"Our current expectation is that we'll play out the regular season and that the playoffs in the North Division will not officially start until after the conclusion of regular-season games in that division," Daly said Monday. "I would assume that would be very soon thereafter. It could be the same day."

The West Division has regular-season games scheduled through May 13. The East Division finished May 11.

The Canucks had 22 players and four staff members test positive for a variant of the coronavirus.

There were 53 games postponed since the NHL season began Jan. 13 because of COVID-19 protocol.

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