Stanley Cup Race – State of Play
The 2021-2022 NHL season is flying by and at the time of writing we only have just over a month to go until the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The trade deadline is a week away and roster changes here will have a big impact on the final destiny of this year’s Stanley Cup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are two-time defending champions and they will be in the mix once again this season. However, this year’s betting favourites are the Colorado Avalanche and the Lightning’s Atlantic Division rival, the Florida Panthers. It looks like the eight Eastern Conference playoff places are all but set. Things are a bit more crowded in the West but the Avalanche have been standout performers.
Lets take a look at some of the leaders in the race for the Stanley Cup. You can keep up to date with all the latest NHL betting news, tips and insights here on VIPCasino.ca.
It’s no surprise that the Avalanche are favourites for the Stanley Cup title. Their roster is packed with talent. Calgary native Cale Makar is a key member of their defense while Mikko Rantanen and Nathan McKinnon provide plenty of talent on the ice. However, a recent injury to captain Gabriel Landeskog could the see the Avalanche captain ruled out for quite some time.
When it comes to the playoffs it seems as though the Avalanche may have the easiest route to the Finals out of all the main challengers. They are a long way out in front in the Central Division and seem to have a relatively straightforward route to the Conference Finals with Dallas being their most likely first round opponents.
A charge all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals does not seem out of the question for Jared Bednar and the Colorado Avalanche.
The favourites in many books. The Panthers have edged just ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Divison and Eastern Conference. While they have a number of veterans in their squad, overall they are untested when it comes to post-season hockey besides a brief playoff visit last season which resulted in a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, the Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996 when they made it all the way to the Finals.
It’s rare that we see a team without that postseason pedigree make it all the way to the decider. Despite their favourites tag, we would still have this down as a surprise if they were able to make it all the way.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay are reigning Stanley Cup champions but their chances of retaining that title for a third season is looking increasingly unlikely if the betting is anything to go by. They have slipped down the betting order over the last week, losing three of their last four games.
The last franchise to win three straight championships was the New York Islanders almost 40 years ago. The Islanders actually went on to win four in a row in that stretch, the last coming in 1983. More recently, the Penguins were able to repeat in the mid-teens with Sidney Crosby taking a starring role. A three-peat from the Lightning would be extremely impressive.
Their odds may be slipping but playoff pedigree counts for a lot in the NHL. Write the Tampa Bay Lightning off at your peril.
Metropolitan Division leaders Carolina Hurricanes are currently fourth in the betting order. Once again they have been one of the strongest teams in the regular season. Their issue over the last four seasons has been getting over the playoff hump. A trip to the Eastern Conference Finals does not look out of the question for the Hurricanes. Their progression past that point remains unclear but they are definitely an outsider to consider for the Stanley Cup Final.
The Calgary Flames are the coming force in the NHL. Available to back at +20000 around the All-Star break, their odds lie at +900 at the time of writing. A steady start was followed by a dip in form that coincided with Canada tightening their COVID restrictions meaning the Flames played in empty arena for a number of games. Since the Calgary crowd returned to the Scotiabank Saddledome the Flames have been red hot.
They are filled with offensive talent. Their first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk are a force to be reckoned with for any defense. They also recently traded for former Stanley Cup winner Stanley Toffoli. This all adds to their already impressive squad depth which will come in handy come playoff time.
At the back, goaltender Jacob Markstrom is having one of the best seasons of his career with veteran Mark Giordano also providing steel at the heart of the defense.
Currently leading in the Pacific Division, if they continue their form into playoffs then the sky is the limit. The Calgary Flames are definitely one to watch in the postseason. Back them to win the Stanley Cup at VIPCasino.ca.
Outside of the divisional leaders and the Lightning, there are no real standout contenders. The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a typically strong season. Many would think though that they do not have the quality to make that extra step and go all the way to the Finals. They are very strong on offense but often their goaltending lets them down.
The Vegas Golden Knights have been a formidable force at home since the beginning of their residency in Vegas but that form has escaped them in periods this season. They’re joined in the betting mix by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild.
Still plenty of storylines to unfold over the coming weeks and months and we will be watching eagerly.
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