With the 2022 NHL All-Star Game break in the past, it’s time to take a deep look at who is in the mix to not only make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 2021-22 NHL season but who will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
Last season, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL used a format that was based on Canadian and American divisions. In 2021-22 the league went back to the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format with its familiar four-division lineup of the Metropolitan, Atlantic, Central and Pacific Divisions.
Before we examine what teams could come out of the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2021-22 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and Final, please check out our guide for betting on the 2022 NHL awards and don’t forget to take a look at the best NHL betting sites.
|To Won Eastern Conference|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||4.90||4.90||5.00||5.25|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||5.07||5.00||5.00||5.25|
|New York Rangers||9.74||9.80||9.50||12.00|
|New York Islanders||56.70||60.00||61.00||41.00|
|Detroit Red Wings||115.00||120.00||126.00||71.00|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||156.00||160.00||151.00||126.00|
|New Jersey Devils||240.00||240.00||251.00||126.00|
Florida Panthers take the top spot
It’s taken the Florida Panthers a good portion of the 2021-22 NHL Season, but it looks like the team has managed to convince the prognosticators that they are a real threat to win the NHL Eastern Conference for the first time since 1996. The Panthers were in their third NHL season in 1996 when they won the Eastern Conference and went to the Stanley Cup Final. where the Colorado Avalanche swept the Panthers in four games.
The Panthers have the most points in the league right now with 69. The team’s record stands at 32-10-5. Florida has been a force at home this season. The Panthers are 23-3-0 at the FLA Live Arena.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been the driving force behind the Panthers’ offence. The 28-year-old is the leading point scorer in the NHL right now with 64 points (17 goals, 47 assists).
Tampa Bay Lightning slip
The play of the Tampa Bay Lightning has not dipped, they still have the second-most points in the NHL’s Eastern Conference with 66 points in 46 games (30-10-6), but they have fallen behind the Panthers in the odds.
The Lightning, who are the winners of the past two Stanley Cups, has been near the top of the Eastern Conference odds since the beginning of the 2021-22 NHL season. One reason for the success of the team has been the play of starting goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy is near the top of the league in goals-against average (2.23) and he has the most wins in the league with 25. If Vasilevskiy can stay as consistent as he has been this season with the workload the team expects him to shoulder for the Lightning, the club has a great chance to get back to the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the mix
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not played in the Stanley Cup Final since they won the Cup in 1967. Toronto has the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL at 53 seasons. The oddsmakers think that could change in 2021-22. The Leafs have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 30-10-3. In addition, the Leafs have played three fewer games than the Lightning and four less than the Panthers and trail those teams by three and six points respectively.
One thing helping the Leafs this season is the play of Vezina Trophy frontrunner, Jack Campbell, in the net. Campbell sports a 2.30 GAA, a .925 save percentage and has 21 wins for the club. Another big factor in the team’s success is the offensive play of Auston Matthews. Matthews is third in the NHL in goal scoring with 31. Matthews is projected to have his best scoring this season if he keeps up the pace.
Our 2022 NHL Eastern Conference futures pick:
With two Stanley Cup wins in a row and a top goaltender, the Tampa Bay Lightning look poised to become a dynasty. We’re going with the Lightning to make it three years in a row as the top team in the Eastern Conference. With that being said, the Florida Panthers are a live bet, especially if the team can secure home ice throughout the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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