Will a Canadian Team Finally Lift Lord Stanley’s Cup?
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will arrive with the Florida Panthers-Boston Bruins, New York Islanders-Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild-Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings-Edmonton Oilers series getting underway on Monday. The NHL predictions list the home teams as the favorite in each of Monday’s games.
It was quite the regular season with the Boston Bruins setting NHL records and making NHL news with 65 wins and 135 points while Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers recorded the first 150-point season in more than 25 years. It would be quite the Stanley Cup Final matchup to have the league’s best team meeting the best player.
However, there are 14 other teams that would be more than happy to spoil that dream matchup.
According to the NHL picks, the Bruins (+325) have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup followed by defending champion Colorado at +700 and a red-hot Edmonton Oilers team at +800.
Here is a look at some of the storylines heading into the postseason.
Bruins Check All of the Boxes
The Boston Bruins came into the season with some questions after making a coaching change.
The return of David Krejci was a huge boost after he was missed a season ago and too much pressure was put on the top offensive line.
Jim Montgomery came in and gave the Bruins more offensive freedom than they had when Bruce Cassidy was at the helm.
Even with the defense jumping up on the rush, the goaltending duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman helped the Bruins allow 36 fewer goals than any other team.
It is no surprise that the Bruins are the favorites according to the NHL odds as the playoffs will get underway on Monday.
Mile High Hopes
Any team with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar has the potential to make an extended run in the playoffs.
— y – Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 15, 2023
That trio helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup title last season and will look to make it back-to-back championships. Makar missed 22 games and MacKinnon was out for 11 games. That played a role in the Avalanche needing to finish strong to win a division title.
Colorado certainly will miss Gabriel Landeskog. The first-line winger has missed the entire season, and salary cap restraints kept the Avalanche from bringing back its entire team.
Goalie Alexandar Georgiev came over for three draft picks and he finished the season strong as the Avalanche won the Central Division title on the final day of the regular season.
The Avalanche, who open against the second-year Seattle Kraken, have the best odds to emerge out of the Western Conference. Seattle is tied with the New York Islanders for the longest odds to win the Stanley Cup at +5000 according to the sportsbook.
Seven of the eight playoff teams from the Western Conference recorded at least 100 points so the Avalanche should be tested more during these playoffs than during a dominating run to the 2022 NHL title.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the top seed in the Western Conference and would have home-ice advantage if they meet up with Colorado with a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals on the line.
Vegas (+1400), the Dallas Stars (+1400), Los Angeles Kings (+2200) and Minnesota Wild (+2200) should not be overlooked in the Western Conference playoff chase.
The last time a team from Canada won the Stanley Cup came when the surprising Montreal Canadiens won it all in 1993.
Even though the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs, there are Canadian teams that could make a deep run in the playoffs.
Edmonton went 14-0-1 over the last 15 games and the defense seems to have caught up with the offense.
Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman scored more points in a season than the 153 that Connor McDavid had, so he has the ability to win a game by himself.
Edmonton trails only Boston and Colorado in the Stanley Cup odds and the Oilers could make a deep run.
The Toronto Maple Leafs won 50 games during the regular season and got little attention outside of Toronto due to the remarkable season put together by Atlantic Division rival Boston.
If the defense holds up, a star-studded Toronto team could be a tough team to eliminate. The Las Vegas odds have Toronto priced at +1000 to win it all.
Opening up with three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay will make for some good theater. The odds are +4500 for Edmonton and Toronto to both reach the Stanley Cup final.
The last time Canadian teams were the last two teams standing in the NHL playoffs came in 1989, when the Calgary Flames topped the Montreal Canadiens in six games. That came after the two-time defending champion Edmonton Oilers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.
Winnipeg is also in the playoffs. However, the Jets open on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights, the top seed in the Western Conference.
The only division with three of the top seven contenders according to the Las Vegas odds is the Metropolitan Division.
The Carolina Hurricanes, the division champion, are priced at +1000 to win the Stanley Cup even without star winger Andrei Svechnikov.
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils will meet in what could be the most compelling of the first-round series, both coming in at +1200 in the championship odds. At least two of those teams will be eliminated before the Eastern Conference finals so buckle up for these matchups.