The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are here and the storylines are aplenty.
The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues both find themselves in the playoffs this year. Both teams aren’t championship odds darlings, but hockey is hockey, so anyone could find the net.
Most Iowa sportsbooks have the Wild around to win the Stanley Cup, while the Blues are bit further back at .
One of them will be knocked out early on — the two Midwest teams will face off in the first round. Both teams have been blistering down the stretch, as the Wild are 19-2-3 since March 16 with the Blues 15-5-3 over the same period of time.
The Wild traded for Chicago goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline, who has been very good down the stretch. Kirill Kaprizov finished in the top five for points, tallying 110. He had 47 goals and 61 assists on the year. Defensively, St. Louis has had some struggles this season. They allowed 242 goals, though did finish with a +69 goal differential.
The Blues do not have the star power of some NHL squads, but Vladimir Tarasenko finished with 82 points to lead St. Louis. The Blues, of course, finally won a championship during the 2018-19 season.
As for Minnesota, a team from our northern neighbors has not made the Stanley Cup Finals since the North Stars in the early 1990s.
Who awaits the Midwest winner? Avalanche or Panthers?
The books have Colorado as this year’s favorites at , even if the squad has underachieved the last two postseasons. Simply put, the Avalanche are the more balanced team. Colorado finished top-three in scoring and top six in goals against. Defensively they are anchored by Darcy Kuemper, who has been great in the net to finish out the season.
Jonathan Huberdeau, one of Florida’s stars, might have a little something to say about that. Huberdeau finished tied for second in points this season, notching 30 goals and 85 assists in 80 games. Aleksander Barkov has also been strong for Florida, notching 39 goals this season. He finished in the top-20 for total points.
The Panthers, though, have relied on comebacks throughout the season and will need to play dominant hockey from start to finish if they are to finish out the season the way they would like to.
Oh Canada in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs?
It has been nearly 30 years since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup. An oft-repeated note, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the latest team to try and break the drought.
Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored 60 goals this season to lead the NHL, the first player to score that many since Steven Stamkos did 10 years ago. The power play has been fruitful for the Leafs as well this year at 27.3%.
However, Toronto is not the only Canadian team to keep an eye on this year. Calgary is the third favorite behind Florida and Colorado at the books.
At 50-21-11, the Flames are a top-heavy team with three forwards scoring 40 or more goals. The bad side? Depth. The drop-off is there and could be a problem in a deep playoff run for Calgary.
It might, however, be worthwhile to tune into the games simply to watch Matthew Tkachuk. The young forward has notched 103 points and Calgary is +58 when he’s been on the ice this year. Opposing teams might view as a little mouthy — he had 68 penalty minutes this year — but that makes it all the more fun as a hockey fan.
Do not forget about Edmonton either — Leon Draisaitl had a fantastic season, notching 55 goals and 55 assists. Draisaitl finished with the second-most total and second-most power-play goals in the league. Teammate Connor McDavid wasn’t far behind, finishing seventh with 44 goals and added on 79 assists.
First Round Matchups
Tampa Bay, winners of the last two titles, are looking for the first three-peat since the New York Islanders in 1980-83. The Lightning (51-23-8) finished third in the Atlantic Division behind Toronto. Impressively, four teams in the Atlantic Division alone won 50 or more games this year.
The Lightning may be looking for a rare three-peat, but they aren’t the betting favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup. It’s been over 25 years since a team has ended with more points (122) than the President’s Cup-winning Panthers had this year. Even crazier, the Colorado Avalanche were just three points behind the Panthers with 119.
- Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals
- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
- New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
- Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators
- Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
- Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars
- Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings