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 Western 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 Central and Pacific Divisions to represent the Western 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.
2021-22 NHL Western Conference Futures
|Vegas Golden Knights||4.26||3.95||4.00||4.25|
|St Louis Blues||12.00||11.00||11.00||12.00|
|Los Angeles Kings||23.00||21.00||21.00||21.00|
|San Jose Sharks||67.00||60.00||61.00||61.00|
Colorado Avalanche hold
The Colorado Avalanche are the No. 1 team in the Western Conference. The club has a record of 32-8-4 and 68 points on the season. That puts them eight points ahead of the No. 2 Nashville Predators and nine points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild. Colorado has three games in hand on the Preds and four on Vegas. The Wild have played two fewer games than Colorado.
With those games in hand on two of their three closest challengers, the Avalanche have a great opportunity to put even more distance between themselves and the other top teams in the West. One reason to suspect the Avalanche can accomplish this is the team’s goal-scoring prowess. Colorado has 183 goals on the season which is tops in the Conference and a scoring differential of +54, also tops in the West.
It looks as if Colorado has a good chance to keep home ice during the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well, and that’s a frightening proposition, considering the club is 20-2-2 at home this season.
Watch the Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild have quietly been hanging around the top of the Western Conference during the 2021-22 NHL season and with the team recently hitting 42 games played, they are in a position where they have a chance to unseat the Avalanche from the top of the Conference.
The Wild are 9-3 since the start of 2022 and have been putting up some strong offensive numbers. Minnesota is second in the Western Conference in goals scored with 161 and second in goal differential at +39. Like Colorado, Minnesota is very good on home ice, where they sport a 14-3-1 record.
A player to keep an eye on for the Wild is Matt Boldy. The 12th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Boldy joined the club in early January and he has been close to a point per game player, scoring 10 (4 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games. The Wild have lost only one of the 11 games Boldy has played in. He looks like he will take some of the pressure of leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov.
Vegas Golden Knights could get better
Injuries hampered the Vegas Golden Knights for much of the first half of the 2021-22 NHL season. Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Nolan Patrick, Robin Lehner and other important players missed time, but the team has managed to hang around the top of the Western Conference all season long. The Golden Knights could get a tremendous boost in the second half of the season. Over the All-Star break, head coach Peter DeBoer said Jack Eichel, who is recovering from surgery, could soon be cleared for contact.
Vegas has been a solid team without Eichel in the lineup. If the Golden Knights can add the former Buffalo Sabres player to the mix for the end of the season and the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the club will be an even bigger threat than they currently are.
Our 2021-22 NHL Western Conference futures pick
It’s been the Colorado Avalanche for most of the season and that does not change in February. The team has been too dominant with its scoring and too good on home ice to think they won’t represent the Western Conference in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
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