What is the Stanley Cup?
Named after former governor general of Canada, Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston, the Stanley Cup is awarded to the championship-winning side of each NHL season. Perceived by many as the most difficult championship to win, the Stanley Cup Final is the culmination of almost two months of playoff hockey on the back of a gruelling 82-game season.
History of the Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is North America’s oldest professional sports trophy. First awarded in 1892-1893 to Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, the Stanley Cup has 130 years of history. Arguably the most coveted team trophy in professional sports, the Stanley Cup has been awarded every year – aside from the cancelled 2004-2005 season due to a labour dispute – since 1893.
Since the 2007-2008 season when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Holy Grail, only seven NHL clubs have enjoyed the feeling of lifting Lord Stanley. In those 13 seasons, the Pens and Chicago Blackhawks won three each, the Los Angeles Kings and the Tampa Bay Lightning, current defending champions, won twice, while the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues enjoyed the taste of sipping from Lord Stanley once.
Montreal, with 24 Stanley Cup trophies, are the most decorated NHL franchise, though the Canadiens haven’t won since beating Wayne Gretzky’s Kings in 1992-1993. The following clubs are still searching for their inaugural Stanley Cup trophy: Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets.
The NHL Playoffs
Qualifying for the Postseason
Sixteen of the 32 NHL teams qualify for the playoffs, eight of which from both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The top three teams from each of the four divisions – Central, Pacific, Atlantic and Metropolitan – gain an automatic berth into the postseason. The final two available playoff spots in each conference, referred to as wild card berths, are awarded to the teams with the highest points of the remaining sides, regardless of divisional alignment.
Aside from wild card berths, the first round of the NHL playoffs is divisionally based. The top three seeds from each division, along with one wild card team, are pitted against each other in the first round of the postseason. The lower seeded wild card team plays against the division winner with the most points, while the higher-seeded wild card team plays against the other divisional winner. The teams that finish second and third in their respective divisions play off against each other. Division winners cannot face each other until the Conference Final.
The first two rounds of the playoffs – aside from the wild card teams – are intra-divisional, meaning that most matchups are between division rivals. It’s a really important factor to take into consideration. VIPCasino.ca highly recommends that, when selecting your NHL Stanley Cup futures bet, you pick a powerhouse that plays in a comparatively weak division. That way you’ll have an excellent chance of seeing your team, as they’ll most likely be matched against weaker divisional opponents in the first two rounds, advance to at least the Conference Final.
The Stanley Cup champion must win four playoff rounds, each consisting of a best-of-seven series, and could play up to 28 high-intensity games before receiving the honour of lifting Lord Stanley.
Tips for the 2021-2022 Season
Who are the favourites?
An interesting start to the 2021-2022 season has seen Florida ascend to the top of the NHL standings. However, the Panthers are unproven and inexperienced when it matters most, the playoffs. While most sportsbooks have them as second favourites to lift Lord Stanley, winning their first Stanley Cup, at least this season, remains unlikely. The smart money is on the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights, while backing the Edmonton Oilers is also a worthwhile option.
No team has won three Stanley Cups in a row since the New York Islanders, a dynasty that triumphed in four successive seasons from 1979 to 1983. The Lightning have an excellent opportunity to accomplish that lofty feat. Playing in a somewhat weaker Atlantic Division, the Lightning have only the Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs to contend with.
The Panthers’ playoff inexperience opens a clear path for the Lightning to reach the Eastern Conference Final. Tampa’s Stanley Cup winning roster roster from 2020-2021 remains almost entirely intact. And whenever you have a Vezina winner between the pipes, anything is possible.
If you’re picking a team from the Western Conference, you’ll want to either back the Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche. Both teams have incredible depth and are able to elevate their game during the postseason. However, both teams are lacking a superstar goaltender who can steal a playoff series.
Picking the best NHL futures outsiders takes both experience and putting in the legwork. But VIPcasino.ca is here to give you the inside track. The Toronto Maple Leafs are an extremely polarizing team. A team that has incredible potential, the Maple Leafs always seem to falter at the first hurdle in the postseason. However, this could be the year they live up to their lofty expectations. If the Leafs finally exorcise their first-round demons, expect a deep run, one that could result in the club’s first Stanley Cup since 1967. The 2021-2022 edition of the Maple Leafs has an improved blueline and an incredibly talented and deep offensive unit. The one looming question is whether the goaltender combination of Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek is solid enough to backstop the Leafs to glory. If they can somehow get past the Lightning, they’re in with a good shot of going all the way.
The Winnipeg Jets offer another strong outsider pick. Connor Hellebuyck, one of the NHL’s best goaltenders, has the ability to steal a series or two. Combine Hellebuyck’s otherworldly ability with an incredibly strong, deep blueline core along with three solid offensive units, and you’ll be hard pressed to to pinpoint a weakness in the Jets’ lineup. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, all of which have the ability to raise some eyebrows in the business end of the 2021-2022 campaign.
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