2022 NHL Conference Champions Odds and Predictions

NHL Eastern And Western Stanley Cup 2022 Playoffs

Round one of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the rearview mirror. And what a first round it was, with five of the eight series going the distance. The Colorado Avalanche were the only team in the league to escape the first round with a sweep, so perhaps it’s no surprise to see the Avs listed as the current favorites to win the Stanley Cup later this summer.

Second-round matchups are set, with the festivities getting underway on Tuesday night. The upstart Florida Panthers will take on the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in what should be a fascinating series. In the nightcap, the mighty Avalanche will welcome the St. Louis Blues to Denver in Game 1 of that series.

As you may expect, NHL betting sites have once again updated their conference championship odds in advance of the second round of the playoffs. Which teams are the best bets to face off in the Stanley Cup Finals?

NHL Western Conference Championship Odds
Team Odds
Colorado Avalanche -125
Calgary Flames +275
Edmonton Oilers +550
St. Louis Blues +800

Can the Blues Thwart the Avs?

Avalanche-Blues looks like the biggest mismatch of the second round. Colorado wasted no time getting past Nashville with a four-game sweep in the last round.

The Avs, who entered the postseason with the best NHL Stanley Cup odds of any team, certainly looked like a worthy favorite against the Predators. Colorado won three of the four games by multiple goals, outscoring Nashville 21-9 in the series. The Blues needed six games to get past a tricky matchup with the Minnesota Wild in the first round.

St. Louis won Game 1 on the road before falling into a 2-1 series deficit. The Blues ultimately rallied, however, dominating each of the last three games by an aggregate score of 15-5.

Colorado claimed two of the three regular-season meetings with St. Louis after sweeping the Blues out of the playoffs a year ago. Nathan MacKinnon bagged at least one goal in each of the four first-round games with Nashville, and stopping the young center will be priority No. 1 for STL in this matchup. Cale Makar, who scored the game-winning goal in the Avs’ OT win in Game 2, supplied a total of 10 points across the entire series.

Blues netminder Jordan Binnington was the X-factor in the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2019, and he’s once again up to his old tricks in these playoffs. Binnington yielded a goals-against-average of just 1.67 in three starts against the Wild, but St. Louis does have some injury issues along the blue line.

The Battle for Alberta

The other Western Conference semifinal will pit the Edmonton Oilers against the Calgary Flames. Both teams were lucky to escape the first round, needing seven games each to get past the Kings and Stars, respectively. Now, the longtime Alberta rivals will square off against one another in a postseason series for the first time since 1991.

There’s plenty of star power between the teams, but Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau are the headliners.

Both played key roles in their teams’ victories in round one. McDavid, the favorite to win MVP and clearly the league’s best overall player, averaged two points per game against Los Angeles in the first round. McDavid had six multi-point games in the seven-game series, becoming just the second player in NHL history to accomplish the feat in the process.

The Oilers are also riding a hot goaltender in Mike Smith, who overcame a disastrous showing in Game 1 against the Kings to help propel Edmonton into the second. Smith recorded a .938 save percentage in the series and kept the young Kings off the scoreboard in the decisive Game 7 victory.

The Flames fell behind, 2-1, in their first-round series against the Stars before ultimately taking a 3-2 series lead. Jacob Markstrom didn’t draw as many accolades as his Dallas counterpart, Jake Oettinger, in that round, but he did enough to help Calgary advance into round two. Markstrom’s .943 save percentage is the second-best mark in the league behind Oettinger in these playoffs.

Gaudreau supplied the series-winner for the Flames, beating Oettinger to the near post in overtime of Game 7. The victory was a huge relief for Calgary’s massive fanbase, but they can’t afford to celebrate for too long with McDavid and company waiting in the next round.

Who Will Win the Western Conference?

At this point, I have no idea how you pick anybody but the Avalanche to emerge victorious in the Western Conference. St. Louis is a plucky, veteran-laden team, but they lack the firepower necessary to keep up with the high-scoring Avs.

Colorado’s average of 3.8 goals per game ranked second in the league behind only Florida, and they showed no signs of slowing down after averaging 5.25 goals per game against the Preds in the first round.

Whichever team wins the battle of Alberta will have a good shot at making a run to the Finals, but the Avs would still be a betting favorite against either side. Even at -125 NHL Westen Conference odds, I can’t overlook Colorado as the best bet on the board.

Team Odds
Colorado Avalanche -125
Edmonton Oilers +550
Calgary Flames +275
St. Louis Blues +800

NHL Eastern Conference Championship Odds

Team Odds
Florida Panthers +155
Carolina Hurricanes +250
Tampa Bay Lightning +300
New York Rangers +600

The Battle for Florida

Flames-Oilers isn’t the only compelling regional rivalry on tap for the second round. The Florida Panthers will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in what looks like the most compelling matchup of all.

The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history this season.

Florida’s young squad scored a league-high 340 goals on their way to a 58-18-6 overall record. Their plus-94 goal differential was easily the best in the sport, as well.

However, this team lacks experience. This is the Panthers’ third straight playoff appearance, but it’s the first time they’ve advanced beyond the first round since 1996. Getting past Washington in the first round was no easy task, as the Panthers needed six games (plus OT in Game 6) to advance.

On the other side:
We have the most experienced team left in the field. The Lightning disposed of the Maple Leafs in the first round, keeping their quest for a third straight Stanley Cup alive. You can argue these are the two best teams left in the Eastern Conference, so the fact that they’re slated to square off in the second round is a bit disappointing.

I will call it now: The winner of this series will win the Eastern Conference title. Oddsmakers think Florida’s youth will trump Tampa Bay’s experience, but we’ll see.

Top Dogs in the Metropolitan

The Metropolitan Division was likely the top group in the league all year, top-to-bottom. The fact that the top two seeds, Carolina and New York, are the two left standing was far from a sure thing at the beginning of the playoffs. Both teams needed seven games just to get out of the first round.

Carolina took care of the Bruins in the first round, thanks, in large part, to home-ice advantage. The home team won every game in that series, in fact. The Rangers, meanwhile, overcame a 3-1 series deficit against Pittsburgh to win Game 7 in overtime in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd.

New York will have a chance in this series thanks to igor Shesterkin, the league’s top goaltender. The Rangers were badly outplayed for large chunks of their previous series against the Penguins, but Shesterkin’s dominance in net kept them in it.

The question for New York will be whether they can break down the Canes’ stingy defense. The Rangers mustered just 254 goals during the regular season, easily the fewest of the eight teams left. Carolina, meanwhile, yielded a league-low 202 goals. If you can’t score, you’re gonna have a hard time winning.

Who Will Win the Eastern Conference?

As mentioned, I think the winner of the Panthers-Lightning matchup will go on to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. The regular-season version of the Panthers was the most dominant team in the league, but the playoffs are a different animal entirely.

At +300, there is still a lot of bang left in the Lightning’s NHL Eastern Conference odds. Carolina at +250 is a decent value given their good chances of getting past New York in the second round, but the East will come down to one of the Florida sides.

Team Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning +300
Florida Panthers +155
Carolina Hurricanes +250
New York Rangers +600

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

Opening NHL Conference Odds

Colorado Avalanche:
(+125)
Calgary Flames:
(+260)
St. Louis Blues:
(+750)
Minnesota Wild:
(+1000)
Edmonton Oilers:
(+1100)
Los Angeles Kings:
(+1800)
Dallas Stars:
(+2500)
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.

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.

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:
  1. Colorado Avalanche (+125)
  2. Calgary Flames (+260)
  3. Minnesota Wild (+1000)
  4. Edmonton Oilers (+1100)
  5. St. Louis Blues (+750)

NHL Eastern Conference Odds

Florida Panthers:
(+300)
Toronto Maple Leafs:
(+350)
Carolina Hurricanes:
(+450)
Tampa Bay Lightning:
(+750)
Pittsburgh Penguins:
(+800)
Boston Bruins:
(+1000)
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.

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.

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.

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.

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:
  1. Toronto Maple Leafs (+350)
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning (+750)
  3. Florida Panthers (+300)
  4. Carolina Hurricanes (+450)
  5. Pittsburgh Penguins (+800)

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

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Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.

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