- The Florida Panthers (+275) are favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals this June
- Toronto (+450) and Tampa Bay (+550) will face off in the first round of the postseason
- The Boston Bruins (+800) could be a sleeper to win the East with David Pastrnak back from injury
It has been eight long years since the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy went on to capture the Stanley Cup and only eight clubs in NHL history have accomplished the feat since the award for the best regular-season record started being handed out in 1985-86.
That could spell bad news for the Florida Panthers, who surged past the Colorado Avalanche in the season’s final weeks to become the top team in the league.
Let’s check the odds and make our picks on what Eastern Conference squad will claim the Prince of Wales Trophy. Here’s also where you can find the top betting sites for NHL hockey in 2022 and smart wagering tips in our 2022 Stanley Cup betting guide.
Eastern Conference Winner
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+450|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+550|
|New York Rangers||+800|
Panthers ready to pounce
With 322 goals and counting, Florida (+275) is the NHL’s highest scoring squad since the salary cap was introduced in 2005 and just the fifth team to surpass the 300-goal mark in the past 15-plus years.
Play tightens up significantly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs of course, but with stud defenseman Aaron Ekblad nearing a return from a knee injury, the Panthers will get some help keeping pucks out of their own net. Oh yeah, and did we mention that Andrew Brunette’s club was on a franchise-record 13-game win-streak entering Sunday’s action?
G WITH A LASER! pic.twitter.com/XapV95E8Wc
— z – Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 24, 2022
Finally the Leafs year?
While Toronto (+450) will have home-ice advantage when the postseason begins next Monday, they will host the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions from Tampa Bay (+550). Not ideal for a Maple Leafs franchise that hasn’t won a playoff round since 2004. Making matters worse, even if the Buds dispatch of the Bolts, their reward will be a second-round matchup with the Panthers.
Other Eastern Conference Contenders
The Rangers (+800) will host the Penguins (+850) in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh has won three Cups in the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin era, but has failed to advance to round two since 2017. After an awful postseason performance last year, Tristan Jarry will also have to outduel Vezina Trophy lock Igor Shesterkin. Seems unlikely.
So David Pastrnak has returned: pic.twitter.com/BjKIVxexAI
— Evan Marinofsky (@EvanMarinofsky) April 23, 2022
The Bruins (+800) will be the best longshot on the board if they can hold off the Capitals (+1400) for the first Wild-Card spot in the East. That would mean they would avoid playing in a bracket with their Atlantic Division rivals (Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto) and instead face off against the Hurricanes (+600).
Carolina outscored Boston 16-1 in three meetings this season, however, could be missing goaltender Frederik Andersen early in the series. Aside from having a wealth of playoff experience, the B’s bounced Rod Brind’Amour’s club from the postseason in 2019 and 2020. With David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm recently back from injury, the Bruins are healthy and ready to make one last push for the Cup.
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