NHL Playoffs 2021 - Who Will Win the Stanley Cup?

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| 03/06/2021
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The final eight teams left standing in the NHL have been decided, and the regional divisional second round match-ups are now in full swing. The route to the Stanley Cup is now finely poised, with the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning still in the hunt to successfully regain their prize. But, which way could the huge playoff matches go?

Central Division

The Central Division looks a difficult series to call, as the defending champions take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Lightning remain among the leading teams in the Canadian sports betting markets, and they already have taken control of the series by winning game one. It would be difficult to oppose the Lightning in this series, as their experience of winning the Stanley Cup last season will leave them in a strong position throughout the post-season.  They could only finish third in the regular-season standings, but they are a team that are getting stronger as the season progresses. Carolina enjoyed an excellent regular season, as they lost just 12 times and accumulated the most points. However, we expect their season to come to an end against the Lightning.  

East Division

The battle in the East could be one of the most hotly contested. History is on the side of the New York Islanders, as they have won both previous playoffs match-ups against the Boston Bruins. Their form throughout the season against the Bruins has also been strong, as they have won five of the eight games between the sides.  However, the series has started in captivating fashion, with both the Bruins and Islanders taking a game ahead of the third fixture between the franchises. This is a series that could go either way, but our preference is for the Boston Bruins to claim the win, as they look to have a strong chance of winning the Stanley Cup this season, according to the best Canadian sportsbooks.  

North Division

Due to the changes in the schedule this year because of COVID-19, for the first time since 2002, there will be a meeting between two Canadian teams in the second round of the North Division.  There was a shock in the previous round, as the Toronto Maple Leafs, who many believed were the standout side in this section of the draw, were knocked out after seven thrilling games by the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal will now face the challenge of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Both sides are outsiders in the online hockey betting odds, but the preference to make it through from this series would be the Jets.  

West Division

Two very evenly matched sides in the West Division will clash in the second round, as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche do battle. Both sides won four games apiece in the eight matches between the teams this season.  However, the Avalanche laid down a pretty emphatic marker in game one of the series, as they ran out 7-1 winners in Vegas. The Avalanche are the favourites to win the Stanley Cup this season, and based on that opening night performance, they mean business in the playoffs. It could be a straightforward series for Colorado if they maintain their performance level from the opening night.

Stanley Cup Finals

The winners from the West and North will face each other in the semi-finals, while the Central and East winners will clash in the other semi-final. It could be a thrilling series of semi-finals in store, but we find it challenging to look past a potential Stanley Cup Finals series involving the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche. There are certainly fewer questions hanging over the latter, as they have a fairly straightforward passage through to the finals.  

The Lightning will need to lean on all their experience from 12 months ago to get through two sticky challenges, and the series against the Bruins could go to the wire. It is difficult to pinpoint a winner of the Stanley Cup at this point, but Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have been clinical in front of goal for the Avalanche throughout the playoffs so far, as they have combined for 12 goals in five games. Their attacking quality could yet prove to be the difference in the Stanley Cup Finals this season.

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