The 2021-22 NHL season is approaching the halfway point and the preseason favorites to win the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, the Colorado Avalanche, are still the odds-on favorite. If the Avalanche win the NHL title, it will be their first Stanley Cup victory since 2001.
As for the Eastern Conference teams who are in the mix, things are tight. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have won the Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons, is in the running, but the Lightning face stiff competition from the Florida Panthers. The two Florida clubs are tied for first in the NHL with 57 points, but the Lightning have played two fewer games than the Panthers.
2022 Stanley Cup Odds
An Avalanche of scoring
The Colorado Avalanche are on a good run. Since the start of January, the Avalanche have put up a 8-0-1 record. Colorado has outscored their opponents 41-23 in those nine games.
On average, the Avalanche have put up 4.25 goals per game during the 2021-22 season. The only team that has a goals per game average over four is the Florida Panthers at 4.13.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 17, 2022
As much as Colorado is scoring, the team’s goaltending could be a worry during the playoffs, as it ranks 21st in goals-against average at 3.19.
Panthers are hot once again
The Florida Panthers were one of the best teams at the start of the 2021-22 NHL season. Florida began the season on a 10-1 run, but the team struggled with consistency after that hot start. The Panthers have regained their footing and are one of the better teams in the league right now.
The Panthers are on an 8-0-1 run and have been scoring goals at an impressive clip. Since December 29, when they began their 8-0-1 run, the Panthers have outscored opponents 54-24.
The @FlaPanthers scored at least nine goals in a game for the third time in franchise history, with both previous instances also taking place on home ice: Nov. 26, 1997 (10 vs. BOS) and Dec. 30, 2021 (9 vs. TBL). #NHLStats: https://t.co/5VbETCHhcP pic.twitter.com/5pDssqy8rh
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 16, 2022
The Panthers’ goals-against average is 2.84 for the season, which puts them in the No. 14 spot in that category.
With 38 games played, Florida has a 26-7-5 record. They are in first place in the NHL.
Could this be the year for the Leafs?
The Toronto Maple Leafs opened the 2021-22 NHL season on a 2-4-1 run. Since October 27th the Leafs have been much better, putting up a 22-5-2 record. One big reason the Toronto club is winning and in the running for the 2022 Stanley Cup is the play of goaltender Jack Campbell.
Campbell is the frontrunner for the Vezina trophy for best goaltender in the NHL thanks to his 2.13 goals-against average (4th in the NHL), .931 save percentage (2nd in the NHL), 19 wins (tied for 3rd in the NHL) and four shutouts (2nd in the NHL).
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 13, 2022
Auston Matthews is another big reason the Leafs are hot right now. Matthews is tied for second in goal scoring with 25. Matthews has scored five goals in the Leafs past four games.
The Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1966-67. The team’s 53 season drought is the longest in the NHL.
My early pick for the Cup was the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have won the title in the past two seasons and have great goaltending, but with the way the Avalanche are scoring, I’m leaning more toward Colorado right now. The Lightning are playing great, and like the Panthers, have 57 points, but Colorado is scoring at a clip that is just too impressive to ignore. I’m not about to write off the Lightning, but right now, I think Colorado is the rightful favorite.
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