The end of the 2022 NHL season draws near, and as it does, the competition is heating up as teams enter the first round of playoffs. Eight teams remain, three of which are Canadian, to battle it out for the coveted position of NHL Champions in the eliminator series.
Whether you are behind or need a bit of a refresher, use this guide to the 2022 NHL playoffs for a high-level recap of what's happened to date and what's next.
Here Comes the Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have historically struggled to make the NHL playoffs, but this year the team is actually a strong favorite going into the first round. On Thursday, April 28th, 2022, centreman Auston Matthews, who was drafted to the Leafs in 2016, clutched the last regular-season game against the Montreal Canadians to earn Toronto their spot in the playoffs.
Matthews had an unbelievable performance that night, both simultaneously setting and breaking the franchise record for career goals scored with the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the game, Matthews scored his 55th goal with the franchise and when the match went into overtime, he scored his 56th career goal which won them their game against the Canadians.
As round 1 officially commences, the Maple Leafs will be counting on Matthews to make all the difference going forward.
Another worthy contender entering the playoffs is the Colorado Avalanche, who play against the Nashville Predators in the first round. Unfortunately for the Predators, their starting goalie Juuse Saros, suffered a pretty severe ankle injury late in the regular season. If Saros is unable to play during the first-round playoff series because of the injury, it could be very bad for the Predators.
Informing the Avalanche's potential success in the playoffs is their incredible run during the 2021-2022 regular season. During the regular season, several of the Avalanche's top scorers earned over 80 points including Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Maker.
A regular NHL season is 82 games in length; a long competitive season during which a team can build their rosters and records to increase their chances of clutching a playoff spot. The Colorado Avalanche went 56-19 in the 2021-2022 regular season, that's 56 wins with only 19 losses, a very impressive regular-season performance.
During the month of January, the Avalanche went undefeated, gaining victory in all 15 of their games to hold one of the longest winning streaks out of any NHL team during the 2021-2022 regular season.
The Colorado Avalanche are favorites (+330) to win the Stanley Cup this year. For all the fans looking to place wagers on the action, there will be many upcoming NHL betting events.
Overall, this playoff season looks to be highly competitive if it follows the play style of the regular season, which saw many teams playing very aggressively with constant offensive pushes. That is why the 2021-2022 season has been one of the highest for average goals scored per game. Regardless, if the playoffs remain highly competitive, it just means a better viewing experience for fans of the National Hockey League.