By: BNG Staff Writer | Follow us on Twitter @BlackNGoldPod
With the 2021-22 NHL season well underway, hockey fans now have a slightly better idea about who is in contention for the Stanley Cup. A shaky start might have Tampa Bay Lightning fans questioning if the three-peat is still possible while the Edmonton Oilers have hit the ground – or ice – running.
So, who are the leading contenders for the trophy? Using current odds offered by Betway, here are the teams that are seen to be favorites of claiming the 2022 Stanley Cup at the end of the season.
Before the season started, a panel of editors and writers at NHL.com were asked to predict who would win the Stanley Cup. The majority went with the Colorado Avalanche; an opinion shared with the bookmakers.
With the excellent Nathan MacKinnon leading the line and a squad packed with talent, it’s easy to see why the Avalanche are hotly tipped. Yet, at this early stage in the season, the team has yet to get going. They currently have a 2-4 record and sit sixth in the Central Division. Expect that to change soon.
Tampa Bay Lightning
After winning the Stanley Cup in the last two seasons, nobody can overlook the three-peat seekers Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Lightning might be in a bigger battle to qualify for the playoffs than they expected. A middling 3-3-1 record has them currently fourth in the Atlantic Division, but the bigger issue right now is star player Nikita Kucherov being out for up to ten weeks following surgery.
Although if they do make it to the playoffs as expected, experience is on their side to go all the way again.
Vegas Golden Knights
Continuing the unexpected poor starts for fancied teams, the Vegas Golden Knights possess a lackluster 2-4 record currently, placing them seventh in the Pacific Division. With a strong side led by Mark Stone, the Knights’ form is likely to turn a corner soon. Plus, after defeating the much-fancied Avalanche in the playoffs last season, there are numerous reasons why pundits are predicting big things for the Knights.
An exceptional start to the season has made people sit up and take notice of the Florida Panthers. 7-0 with an 18+ goal difference is the best in the league, and the Panthers haven’t been feasting on easy pickings. They’ve dished out defeats to the Lightning, Avalanche, Penguins, and Bruins.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost four of their last five games. They are fifth in the Atlantic Division, behind the Panthers and Lightning. 2004 was the last time they made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Despite all the stats and the tough competition in their division, the Leafs are still fancied in some quarters to go all the way this season.
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Boston Bruins. After a modest start to the season, it seems clear the Bruins will again be in contention for a playoffs spot. In what could be captain Patrice Bergeron’s last season for the team after joining in 2003, the Bruins will want to recapture the form that saw them win the Stanley Cup back in 2011 to send Bergeron off in style.