We don’t want to make too many proclamations about the Stanley Cup playoffs just a few days in, but the Colorado Avalanche entered the postseason as Cup favorites and they only solidified that status with a Game 1 blowout of Nashville in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Game 2 is Thursday with the Avs as huge favorites. They are +300 betting favorites for the Stanley Cup.
Stanley Cup 2022 odds
Colorado was the Stanley Cup favorite entering the 2021 postseason as well – the Avalanche haven’t won the Cup since 2001 or even been back since – but were knocked out in the second round by Vegas. This year’s Avs might be better.
They destroyed a good Predators team 7-2 in Game 1 on Tuesday. Nathan MacKinnon and Devon Toews scored in the opening 2:42 of the first period, the fastest two goals from the start of a playoff game in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history – they bested the previous mark of 2:54 set in Game 2 of the 1998 Conference Quarterfinals when Valeri Kamensky and Peter Forsberg combined for the feat. The goals by MacKinnon and Toews came 22 seconds apart, the eighth-fastest in club playoff history.
MacKinnon (2-1—3), Cale Makar (1-2—3) and Mikko Rantanen (0-3—3) each posted a three-point outing. MacKinnon (30-42—72 in 51 GP) eclipsed 70 career postseason points and became the fifth player in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history to hit the mark. The Avalanche have scored five goals in the first period, matching the franchise playoff record for most goals in any frame.
Gabriel Landeskog scored a goal and registered an assist in his return to the lineup. Landeskog played in Game 1 after missing the end of the regular season due to a knee injury. He had 30 goals and 59 points in 51 contests during the regular season.
v”We talked about it beforehand, coming out to a fast start and playing our game, that was key,” Landeskog said. “That was us getting rewarded. Nobody was cheating. We weren’t hanging on the wrong side of the puck trying to create scoring chances. We were just sticking to our game hard and playing fast. We ended up getting some scoring chances and we were able to capitalize on a lot of them. Obviously, that led to a big first period for us and that carried us through the rest of the game.”
The Avalanche certainly are catching a break in this series in that No. 1 Predators goaltender Juuse Saros is out injured. The Predators probably wouldn’t beat the Avalanche with Saros. They’re not beating them without him. The drop-off in goaltending when Saros is out of the lineup is huge. David Rittich made his first career playoff start Tuesday, getting the nod over AHL star Connor Ingram, but lasted just 15:04 before he was pulled after giving up five goals in just 13 shots.
The Calgary Flames are +650 third-favorites to win the Cup – no Canadian team has since 1993 when Montreal hoisted it. The Flames opened their series with a 1-0 home win over Dallas. After leading the league with nine shutouts during the regular season, Jacob Markstrom made 16 saves to blank the Stars in his first playoff appearance with the Flames and give Calgary a Game 1 victory. Markstrom became the second goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in a postseason opener, joining Mike Smith in Game 1 of the 2019 First Round.
Johnny Gaudreau (8-12—20 in 31 GP) factored on Elias Lindholm’s game-opening goal to reach 20 career playoff points, behind only Sean Monahan (10-11—21 in 30 GP) for the most with the franchise among current Flames players. Darryl Sutter recorded his 90th career postseason win and tied Mike Babcock for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time list.
Colorado and Calgary could only meet in the Western Conference Finals.
In the East, Florida won the Presidents’ Trophy but was stunned 4-2 at home by Washington in Game 1. The Panthers are still +625 second-favorites to win their first-ever Cup but won’t stay there if they lose again in Game 2 on Thursday.
In the regular season, the Panthers dominated as the league’s top-scoring team and posted only 15 games with two goals or fewer. They did not lose a game in regulation when leading after 2 periods, going 39-0-1, the best point percentage in the NHL in that scenario.
The Capitals became the 12th team to defeat the Presidents’ Trophy winners in Game 1 of the First Round, Conference Quarterfinals or Division Semifinals (since 1986 when the award was introduced), including a 7-1 mark in the last eight such contests. Washington is still a +2800 long shot to win the Cup.