With just one day remaining in the NHL’s regular-season schedule, the playoff picture is rapidly coming into focus. Eight teams each from the Eastern and Western Conferences have already locked up playoff spots, but several key first-round matchups will not be determined until the final games are played.
Just three Canadian entries will be headed to the postseason this time around. After enjoying an impressive regular season campaign, the Calgary Flames head to the playoffs as pacific Division champions and sporting the second-best record in the Western Conference. The Flames’ breakthrough is reflected on the Stanley Cup futures odds, where they lead the Canadian contingent as a strong 8.00 bet.
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Flames Riding High Following Sizzling Campaign
It has been a spectacular turnaround campaign for the Calgary Flames, who finished last season well out of playoff contention. Powered by the top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm, all of whom reached the 40-goal mark this season, the Flames exceeded expectations by racking up 50 wins for just the second time their last Stanley Cup win in 1989.
— Sara Boom (@SJRBoomz) April 29, 2022
Calgary is also topped in the Western Conference with 25 road wins, and with veteran Jacob Markstrom flashing vintage form, the club sits among the league leaders with a 2.47 team goals-against average going into their final game of the season.
#Flames have officially announced the return of RedLot. Get read #Calgary. This event is free of charge, available for fans of all ages, and will be held during each Calgary Flames home playoff game. Fans in attendance can watch the game live on the enormous TITAN. #GoFlamesGo pic.twitter.com/9PTTD8mBIj
— Rick Tulsie (@RickTulsie) April 28, 2022
The challenge facing the Flames will be to overcome a dismal playoff track record. The club has won just one total first-round playoff series since their last Cup run 33 years ago, and have won three of their last 11 home playoff games.
Avalanche Team to Beat in the West
The Flames must also get past the Colorado Avalanche if they want to be the first Canadian team to raise the Stanley Cup in three decades. Poised to finish atop the Western Conference standings, the Avalanche look to playoff action perched as 4.25 betting favourites on the Stanley Cup odds.
Landeskog skates, could return for Avalanche for Game 1 of playoffs: Landeskog skates, could return for Avalanche for Game 1 of playoffs Source: https://t.co/s5HdJdbUxp Gabriel Landeskog skated on Thursday and is on track to play for Colorado Avalanche… https://t.co/j6Ifm4CCbg pic.twitter.com/3oQONgXuiv
— hockeyaddicts (@hockeyaddicts) April 28, 2022
The Avalanche blazed their way to the top of the standings while recording a league-low five regulation losses on home ice. However, the club has stumbled since claiming a playoff berth, falling to defeat in five of six contests ahead of their season finale on Friday night. And like Calgary, the Avalanche have work to do to flip the script on their recent playoff record after getting bounced from the second round of the NHL playoffs in each of the past three years.
Can Oilers Make Deep Run?
The Edmonton Oilers are to rebound after getting swept in the first round last season, as they get set to take on the Los Angeles Kings in opening round action pegged as a lengthy 19.00 bet on the Stanley Cup futures. Once again the Oilers leaned heavily on the superstar duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, who have combined to score 99 total goals and 233 total points so far this season. Edmonton also took three of four from the Kings during their regular-season series.
— Trevor Moeller (@Trevor_Moeller) April 29, 2022
But while a first-round series win would appear to be in reach for the Oilers, the team’s lack of distributed scoring, and often one-dimensional play is unlikely to take them too deep in the postseason.
After smashing the franchise record for goals scored in a season Toronto Maple Leafs sniper is a virtual lock to claim Hart Trophy honours as league MVP
Leafs Time is Now
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the lone Canadian club to advance to this year’s NHL playoffs. With Auston Matthews rewriting the franchise record book while becoming the first Maple Leafs player to score 60 goals in a season. The club will need Matthews to maintain the torrid pace that has made him a favourite to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP if they are to end a 56-year championship drought and payout as a strong 11.00 bet on the NHL futures.
6⃣0⃣ goals for the Hart Trophy favorite (-390) Auston Matthews 🔥 pic.twitter.com/q9P4satumz
— br_betting (@br_betting) April 27, 2022
The Maple Leafs will face a tough opponent from the get-go, and will ultimately have to get past the strongly favoured Florida Panthers if they are to reach the conference finals and beyond. The Panthers have enjoyed a spectacular season, and trail only the Avalanche as 6.50-second favourites to win their first-ever Stanley Cup title.
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