2022 NHL Conference Champions Odds and Predictions

2022 NHL Conference Champions Odds and Predictions

NHL Eastern And Western Stanley Cup 2022 Playoffs

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway, and what a ride it’s been already. The top-seeded Colorado Avalanche secured a 2-0 series lead over the Nashville Predators with a dramatic overtime victory in Thursday’s Game 2.

However, that’s just one of six first-round series in which one team holds a 2-0 lead. The other is Carolina/Boston in which the Hurricanes have gained the early edge. Of course, there is still a long way to go before any team is crowned champion later this summer. NHL betting sites are buying what the Avs are selling early on, but being a betting favorite is often a kiss of death in the ruthless NHL postseason.

While the playoffs have already begun, it’s still not too late to bet on which teams will represent their respective conferences in the Stanley Cup Finals. The championship series won’t begin until June, so you’ve got plenty of time to get those wagers placed. Let’s use the up-to-date NHL conference odds in order to determine the best value bets to advance to the Finals, shall we?

NHL Western Conference Odds

Colorado Avalanche:

(+125)

Los Angeles Kings:

(+1800)

Nashville Predators:

(+3000)

Colorado Avalanche (+125)

As mentioned, the Avs are in the driver’s seat in their first-round matchup against Nashville. The Predators had a chance to steal Game 2 in Denver on Thursday night, but Cale Makar secured a 2-0 lead for Colorado with a game-winning goal in overtime. The Avalanche entered the playoffs as +300 betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and the first two games of this series haven’t done anything to dispel the notion that they should be favored.

Cale Makar scored 8:31 into overtime, Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves on his 32nd birthday and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.https://t.co/SYscqfGJ04

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 6, 2022

The Avs scored 312 goals during the regular season, making them one of just five teams across the league to eclipse 300 tallies. Nashville held the high-scoring Avs to just a pair of goals in Game 2, thanks in large part to an incredible showing out of goaltender Connor Ingram. Ingram saved 49 of 51 shots in the game, but it still wasn’t enough to help the Preds pull the upset.

The issue with betting on Colorado’s +125 NHL Western Conference odds is that they’ll face a tougher path to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Getting past Nashville would set up a second-round date with either Minnesota or St. Louis. Those are two of the most experienced teams in the Western Conference field, and the Avs certainly can’t take either of them lightly. Colorado is a little riskier as a betting option than those short odds may indicate.

Calgary Flames (+260)

The better value may be Calgary, though the Flames seem to have a real fight on their hands in their own first-round series. While the Avalanche may cruise past the Predators, the Flames haven’t necessarily looked the part through two games against Dallas.

Calgary was lucky to come away with a 1-0 triumph in Game 1 earlier this week before suffering a 2-0 defeat on home ice on Thursday. Now, the Flames will have to head to Texas for a couple of games at what should be a raucous American Airlines Center. The lack of scoring for Calgary in this series is a bit of a surprise considering Dallas wasn’t particularly stingy during the regular season. The Stars yielded 246 goals, which ranked toward the bottom among the 16 playoff teams. The Flames’ defense was outstanding, meanwhile, with just 208 goals allowed.

Johnny Gaudreau, who finished the season with 40 goals and 75 assists, has been held to just one point through the Flames’ first two playoff games. The 28-year-old will need to get it going if the Flames are going to capitalize on a golden opportunity to win the Western Conference for the first time since 2004.

St. Louis Blues (+750)

The Blues have been a staple in the Stanley Cup Playoffs throughout their illustrious history. In spite of playoff appearances on an annual basis, however, the Blues still only have one Stanley Cup title. St. Louis finally won it all in 2018-19 when they toppled the Bruins in a seven-game thriller. Since the franchise was founded in 1967, however, the Blues have missed out on postseason play just eight times.

SHUTOUT!!!! HAT TRICK!!! BLUES WIN GAME 1!!!! #WeAllBleedBlue pic.twitter.com/Ew35ypGXPd

— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 3, 2022

Last year’s playoff run was brief, however, as the Blues were swept in four games by the Avalanche in the first round. STL didn’t have the best regular season, finishing with 109 points and in third place in the Central behind Colorado and Minnesota.

Please Note:

Getting past the Wild in the first round won’t be easy. The Blues went into Minnesota and came away with a stirring 4-0 win in Game 1 before losing, 6-2, in Game 2.

These two teams are evenly matched, though it’s a bit surprising to see the Blues with the better NHL Western Conference odds, as of now. St. Louis will have a home-ice advantage for the rest of the series, but the Wild still look like the deeper, more dangerous side on paper.

Minnesota Wild (+1000)

Minnesota is a relatively new franchise that didn’t enter the league until 2000. However, playoff wins have been hard to come by over the past two decades. The Wild have advanced beyond the first round just three times ever, and their next Western Conference title will be their first.

The last time Minnesota played beyond the first round was back in 2014-15 when they ultimately fell to Chicago in round two. The Wild did add some veteran experience with the midseason trade for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, which should provide some much-needed stability in goal. Kirill Kaprizov looks like a budding star for Minnesota, and he broke out in a big way with a hat-trick in the Game 2 triumph over St. Louis.

Given the discrepancy in the odds, I’d much sooner bet on Minnesota’s +1000 NHL Western Conference odds than St. Louis at +750. The fact that the Blues swept the three-game regular-season series gives me some pause, but there’s just too much value here to be ignored considering how closely matched these teams really are.

Edmonton Oilers (+1100)

As mentioned here, the Oilers are on my radar because they happen to have the world’s best player on their roster. Connor McDavid’s combination of speed and skill is unmatched around the league. The Kings have done a fine enough job keeping him under wraps through the first two games, but it’s only a matter of time until he puts his fingerprints on the series.

McDavid piled up 44 goals and 79 assists during the regular season. Against LA, he’s scored once along with three helpers through two games. Edmonton bounced back with a 6-0 shellacking of the Kings in Game 2 after a surprising 4-3 setback in Game 1.

The Kings are about as experienced as any team in the field, but I do not think Los Angeles will be able to overcome the obvious talent gap over the course of this matchup. We saw in Game 2 what kind of gulf truly exists between the two sides. Edmonton will face a tough test in round two, assuming they get matched up against Calgary. These two teams split their four regular-season meetings, with the Flames winning each of the last two. The home team won each of the matchups, as well.

Watching McDavid take on the Flames’ stingy defense would be an incredibly fun battle if we get it. Edmonton is looking to advance beyond the first round for just the second time since they last went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. The Flames’ +1100 Western Conference odds look somewhat appealing, thanks in large part to McDavid.

Who Will Win the Western Conference?

In the end, I’m having a very difficult time overlooking the Avalanche.

While the +125 NHL Western Conference odds admittedly leave something to be desired, Colorado is the most formidable two-way team in the sport. Playing an early OT game against Nashville in Game 2 should only make them even more battle-tested moving forward. If you’re looking for a little more value, Calgary (+260) and Minnesota (+1000) are the options that stand out.

The Wild’s lack of experience may ultimately come back to haunt them, but they’re also a bit too talented to face such long odds.

My favorite bets to win the West are ranked as follows:

Colorado Avalanche (+125)
Calgary Flames (+260)
Minnesota Wild (+1000)
Edmonton Oilers (+1100)
St. Louis Blues (+750)

NHL Eastern Conference Odds

Toronto Maple Leafs:

(+350)

Carolina Hurricanes:

(+450)

Tampa Bay Lightning:

(+750)

Pittsburgh Penguins:

(+800)

New York Rangers:

(+1000)

Washington Capitals:

(+1300)

Florida Panthers (+300)

If you want to bet on a team with vast amounts of playoff experience, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. This is a franchise that has not won a playoff series since 1996 when Bill Clinton was president. In fact, that’s still the only season in which the Panthers have won a playoff series of any kind dating back to the birth of the franchise in 1993.

Experience tends to matter, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That said, the Panthers have the best NHL Eastern Conference odds at +300 because they’re arguably the best team in the entire sport. Florida claimed the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time ever after finishing a league-best 58-18-6. The Panthers’ 340 goals were a franchise record and led the NHL by a massive margin, while their plus-94 goal differential ranked first, as well.

Jonathan Huberdeau (@JonnyHuby11) has some nifty moves. 😼 #StanleyCup

🇺🇸: @NHL_On_TNT ➡️ https://t.co/utjoZmkZ6O
🇨🇦: @Sportsnet ➡️ https://t.co/IKdxXBZiep

NHL x @massmutual pic.twitter.com/AYj04lauMA

— NHL (@NHL) May 6, 2022

Florida’s inexperience was on display in a disappointing Game 1 loss to the Capitals, but they were able to right the ship and even the series with a victory in Game 2.

The Capitals won it all just a few years ago, and any team with Alex Ovechkin on it is going to be a tricky foe. Jonathan Huberdeau, who was one of the best players in the league this season, has been held goalless with just one assist thus far, as well.

The lack of experience is the main reason the Panthers have such favorable +300 NHL Eastern Conference odds.

Toronto Maple Leafs (+350)

Speaking of a team with no recent playoff success, how about the Toronto Maple Leafs? The Leafs have been steadily adding more talent to the roster with each passing year, but playoff success has remained quite elusive.

Toronto has qualified for the playoffs in each of the last five seasons. However, their next series triumph will be their first since 2003-04, just before the lockout. The Leafs infamously won 56 games last season, only to fall to Montreal in a seven-game first-round upset. Whoops!

The Leafs got a rough draw this year, as well. They’re in the midst of a first-round clash with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, though Toronto did enter the series with home-ice advantage. After an impressive 5-0 shutout win in Game 1, the Lightning bounced back with a 5-3 win in Game 2.

The @MapleLeafs showing their support for the @Raptors tonight in Game 6 #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/Ix7yKKCPHG

— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 28, 2022

Clearly, it’s of the utmost importance for the Maple Leafs to steal at least one of the next two games in Tampa. They simply can’t afford to come back to Toronto in a 3-1 hole against this team, even if overcoming large deficits is something that has happened with a surprising amount of regularity in the NHL playoffs over the years.

Auston Matthews has to cement himself as the best player in this series if the Leafs are going to exorcise those playoff demons. Matthews has five points through the first two games, but he was held without a goal in Game 2. He did pick up a hat-trick in his last trip to Tampa back in April, however.

Nobody will be surprised if the Maple Leafs lose this series, but this playoff drought simply can’t last forever. If they get past the mighty Lightning, the Leafs may well become the new betting favorites.

Carolina Hurricanes (+450)

The Bruins were a very popular pick to upset the Hurricanes in the first round, but Carolina was able to hold serve in their own barn in Games 1 and 2. However, the Hurricanes are going to have to do something about their goaltenders at some point.

Backup Antti Raanta is a doubt to start in Game 3 after leaving Game 2 with an injury.

That’s an issue considering the team’s actual No. 1, Frederik Andersen, is still out with a lower-body injury of his own. Third-string rookie Pyotr Kochetkov racked up 35 saves in his playoff debut in Game 2 to help lead the Canes to victory, but it remains to be seen whether he can hold up over the course of a full series, if necessary.

In his first game in North America, Pyotr Kochetkov challenged the entire Iowa Wild bench

Just a few games later and he dropped his gear to fight Milwaukee G Connor Ingram

This kid has a swagger to fire up an entire locker room up and elevate in the postseason. Love to see it. https://t.co/80ej26POMo

— Andrew Rinaldi (@FPHWolves) May 5, 2022

Boston is set to make a change in goal for Game 3, however. The Bruins will start a rookie of their own in Jeremy Swayman in Game 3 after Linus Ullmark conceded eight goals across the first two contests.

The Bruins have enough talent to come back and win the series, but they certainly can’t afford to drop Game 3 at home.

The Hurricanes’ +450 NHL Eastern Conference odds may hinge on when, and if, Andersen is able to get back into the lineup. For now, I’ll pass on Carolina to win the conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning (+750)

What do we really need to say about the Lightning’s +750 NHL Eastern Conference odds? This team has won the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years, and they’re currently tied with Toronto in their first-round series and coming back home for Game 3.

With home-ice advantage now in their pocket, the Lightning should probably be favored to take the series and advance to the next round.

Steven Stamkos is finally healthy, which wasn’t the case during either of Tampa Bay’s previous two championship runs. The veteran has been quiet through the first two games of the series, however, with nothing but an assist on his ledger. The Ontario native finished the season with 42 goals and 64 assists, so it’s likely just a matter of time until he gets going.

Steven Stamkos on Victor Hedman: “We think he’s the best defenseman in the game.”

— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) May 6, 2022

One stumbling block for both Toronto and Tampa Bay is that the series winner would likely face Florida in round two because the Hurricanes are the No. 2 seed. A Florida-Tampa Bay matchup would be a fascinating clash between a couple of teams with a massive discrepancy in postseason experience.

It’s admittedly hard not to like the obvious value offered by the Lightning’s +750 NHL Eastern Conference odds. If they’re able to upset the Maple Leafs, who’s to say they can’t go all the way again? We know they’re capable.

Pittsburgh Penguins (+800)

If there is one more team worth a look when it comes to NHL Eastern Conference odds, it’s probably the one with Sidney Crosby on it. “The Kid” is no spring chicken at 34, but a 31-goal, 53-assist showing in 69 regular-season games shows he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Pittsburgh escaped New York with a thrilling 4-3 triple-overtime victory in Game 1 before the Rangers evened the score with a 5-2 win in Game 2. All the Penguins had to do was get one game in New York in order to feel pretty good about their chances when the scene shifts back to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4.

Whether the Penguins can score enough to beat the Rangers remains to be seen. New York yielded just 2.49 goals per game behind Vezina Trophy frontrunner Igor Shesterkin. New York also entered the playoffs in better form, but Pittsburgh has thus far managed to navigate the injury to their own goaltender, Tristan Jarry.

If the Penguins can emerge victorious in this series, they’re fully capable of beating anybody. With so much star power still leading the way, their +800 NHL Eastern Conference odds still have some upside.

Who Will Win the Eastern Conference?

Unlike the West, there is no clear-cut frontrunner in the East. Instead, we have a gaggle of teams vying for supremacy. The Panthers are worthy favorites, but the absence of postseason experience makes it hard to imagine they’ll actually put it all together this summer.

Florida isn’t a bad bet, but I much prefer taking a shot on the longer odds you can get on Toronto (+350) or Tampa Bay (+750). The winner of that series may well be the cream of the crop in the East, and they’ll have the confidence, to boot.

The best bets to win the NHL Eastern Conference in 2022 are as follows:

Toronto Maple Leafs (+350)
Tampa Bay Lightning (+750)
Florida Panthers (+300)
Carolina Hurricanes (+450)
Pittsburgh Penguins (+800)

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

Author: Tamara Kim