NHL Playoffs 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for May 17 Schedule

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 17, 2022

NHL Playoffs 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for May 17 Schedule

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche were the two best teams in the NHL during the regular season, and they both took care of business in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    The Avs swept the Nashville Predators, while the Panthers won a six-game series against the Washington Capitals.

    On Tuesday, both Florida and Colorado will be in action as the second round of the postseason gets underway. The field is now down to eight teams, and the Panthers and Avalanche could be difficult to beat.

    Florida will be facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who won a seven-game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Meanwhile, Colorado will be taking on the St. Louis Blues, who beat the Minnesota Wild in six games in the opening round.

    Here's a look at Tuesday's schedule, along with odds, predictions and storylines to watch.

Tuesday Schedule, Odds

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning (+140; bet $100 to win $140) at Florida Panthers (-155; bet $155 to win $100), 7 p.m. ET, TNT

    Game 1: St. Louis Blues (+175) at Colorado Avalanche (-215), 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT

The Lightning Will Rely on Experience for Game 1 Win

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Panthers have finally made it past the first round of the postseason again. They had lost seven consecutive playoff series and hadn't advanced to the second round since 1996, until they outlasted the Caps last week.

    Washington gave Florida a tough battle, especially early in the series. Now, things aren't going to get any easier for the Panthers, who will have to face the Lightning, a team renowned for thriving at this time of year.

    It's also the second straight year the in-state rivals will meet in the postseason. In 2021, Tampa Bay won a six-game series over Florida in the first round to begin its path to the Stanley Cup.

    This year, the Panthers are a much better team, as they proved by winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history and ending their run of postseason woes.

    However, the Lightning not only know what it takes to get past the first round but also the way to a championship.

    "We saw them a lot last year and whenever we play them it's obviously a tough test," Tampa Bay forward Ross Colton said of Florida, per NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "Watching them against the Capitals, that series could have went either way. We kind of know what to expect from them. It's probably going to be a grind."

    This series could also go either way and may go six or seven games. But expect the Lightning to jump out to a 1-0 lead, even though they'll be on the road Tuesday night.

    Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't have the best numbers in the first round (.897 save percentage, 3.04 goals against average), but that was uncharacteristic of him.

    Florida got off to a slow start versus Washington, falling behind 2-1, so it may need some time to feel out the Lightning, too.

    So, don't be surprised if Tampa Bay gets off to a hot start and takes the early advantage against Florida.

Avalanche May Get Past Blues in Only 4 or 5 Games

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Colorado is going to be difficult to beat this postseason. If that wasn't clear at the end of the regular season, then it is now after the Avalanche swept the Predators in the first round. The Avs also scored five or more goals in three of those four games.

    Although St. Louis will be a tougher opponent than Nashville, Colorado is the clear favorite in this second-round series. The Avalanche have talent up and down their roster, they're healthy and they're on a roll.

    "When you look at how they score goals, and the way they play, there’s a lot of odd-man rushes and a lot of breakdowns and things like that, where they pick you apart," Blues coach Craig Berube said, per Pat Graham of the Associated Press.

    Colorado is successful at doing that, and it should also be motivated: This has been the point the team hasn't been able to get past in recent years. The Avalanche have lost in the second round each of the past three seasons and haven't made it further since 2002.

    That should change this year. The prediction here is Colorado will win Game 1 on home ice, then keep the momentum throughout the series. It will either earn a second consecutive sweep, or it will only drop one game to St. Louis.

    Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon will continue to power the Avalanche's offense, and they will overmatch the Blues early in the series.

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