It’s here, the race for the 2022 Stanley Cup – the greatest prize in all of ice hockey.
After a couple of years of the playoffs being played behind closed doors or in neutral venues, this year the playoffs are truly back with games being played in front of fans. It looks set to be another dramatic playoff race and here we review it all.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Arguably the game of the first round of the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning who are looking to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup take on the Maple Leafs who haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. The Maple Leafs have likely MVP Auston Matthews in their line up and are looking to get past this stage for the first time after losing in the first round in their last six attempts. It’s set to be a cracker.
Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals
The Panthers finished atop of the Eastern Conference and are hugely fancied to progress past the Capitals in this match up. The Capitals best player, the legendary Alex Ovechkin is an injury concern for the Capitals and without him many believe they have no chance.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins
A familiar match up awaits as the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes lock horns once again. The Bruins have eliminated the Hurricanes in two of the last three seasons and the Hurricanes will be looking for revenge. The Hurricanes will confident following their most successful season as a franchise, however an injury to goal tender Frederik Andersen could make life uncomfortable.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The Rangers are making their first appearance in the playoffs since 2017 and have got this far due to the heroics of goal tender Igor Shesterkin. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have been in fine form this season and things look really exciting for the Rangers. For the Penguins, this could be the last hurrah. The trio of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust are all out of contract at the end of the year and the Penguins championship window is quickly closing.
Minnesota Wild vs St Louis Blues
Goals, goals goals. Both the Wild and Blues have had record scoring seasons and more of the same looks likely as these two entertaining and enterprising sides prepare to lock horns. It’s a hard game to call as both teams will be reliant upon their attacking prowess to come out on top.
Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars
This looks like a one sided affair with the Flames expected to breeze past the Stars. The Flames can boast three 40 goal scorers in the shape of Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau but the Stars can boast Joe Pavelski who scored 81 goals. If the Stars are to have any hope they will need Pavelski on top form.
Edmonton Oilers vs LA Kings
The Kings are making their first appearance in the playoffs since 2018 and will be hopeful that they can make their reappearance a winning one. For the Kings, Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault have led the way with two excellent seasons and all hopes are likely to rest on their shoulders. The Oilers will turn to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the hopes of advancing to the next round.
Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators
The Avalanche are the favourites to win it all and should have more than enough for the Predators who will be missing standout goalie Juuse Saros. The Avalanche have four players who scored over 80 goals this season and with that firepower it will take a special team to stop them.
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