- BetOnline favors the Colorado Avalanche (+185) to make their first Stanley Cup Final in 21 seasons
- Jack Eichel could give the Golden Knights (+375) the boost they need to win the Western Conference
- The Oilers (+1600) fired coach Dave Tippett in hopes of not squandering another season of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl
Just like last year, everyone assumes either Colorado (+185) or Vegas (+375) will come out of the Western Conference. But nothing breeds stranger results than the NHL’s postseason.
If the worst team in hockey this season, the Montreal Canadiens, somehow made the Stanley Cup Final just eight months ago, anything can happen this spring.
2022 NHL Western Conference
|Vegas Golden Knights||+375|
|St Louis Blues||+1200|
|Los Angeles Kings||+2200|
|San Jose Sharks||+6600|
Avalanche or Golden Knights?
Colorado (+185) has failed to advance past the second round of the postseason in the Nathan MacKinnon era. However, hockey’s hot stove indicates that Flyers superstar Claude Giroux could be headed to the Avs in a Ray Bourque-type end-of-career pushes to win a ring.
Vegas (+375) won’t have to wait until the March 21 trade deadline to add a first-line center of their own, with whispers that Jack Eichel will soon return from offseason neck surgery. The only problem is the Golden Knights might need to move their best player, Mark Stone, to long-term injured reserve just to clear enough cap room for Eichel to slot in the lineup.
Jack Eichel is back in contact practice for the Golden Knights. 👀https://t.co/ghPszKhpa4
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 7, 2022
Just one year after the Lightning made a mockery out of the NHL’s salary cap, expect Vegas to get their books in order for a long postseason run.
While nothing ever goes as planned in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a Golden Knights vs. Avalanche Western Conference Final with Eichel and Giroux would be the most entertaining result possible.
Western Conference longshots
Minnesota (+800) and Calgary (+850) are likely the biggest roadblocks in Colorado and Vegas’ respective roads to the Western Conference Final. Fresh off a six-game winning streak, Kirill Kaprizov and the Wild look deep and dangerous. Dean Evason’s club took the Knights to a hard-fought seven games in their 2021 first-round series and could provide similar resistance in the Central this season.
Meanwhile, the Flames are flying up the standings in the Pacific. Dismissed by many as a retread head coach with outdated ideas, two-time Cup winner Darryl Sutter has pending free agent Johnny Gaudreau playing the best hockey of his career.
Johnny Gaudreau is so backhttps://t.co/7kCUUlFBkG
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) February 10, 2022
Craig Berube’s Blues (+1200) know how to play playoff hockey as well, injuring every opponent in sight en route to an unexpected Stanley Cup in 2019. The league’s fastest skater, Jordan Kyrou, has also injected a nice boost of speed and skill to St. Louis’ lineup, scoring 17 goals and 42 points before the All-Star break of his rookie campaign.
In danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons despite having the past two Hart Trophy winners on the same team, the Oilers (+1600) replaced Dave Tippett with AHL Bakersfield coach Jay Woodcroft last week.
While we like getting long odds on a club with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton is nowhere near a contender thanks to the shoddy work of Ken Holland and his front office predecessors.
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