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NHL Playoffs 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for May 25 Schedule

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 25, 2022

DENVER, COLORADO - MAY 19: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena on May 19, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Michael Martin/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been the clear best team in the Eastern Conference this postseason. They swept the Florida Panthers in the second round, and they're now waiting to see how the Carolina Hurricanes-New York Rangers series plays out.

As for the Western Conference, it's also clear which team has been the best. The Colorado Avalanche have carried the momentum over from their strong regular season into the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the first round, they swept the Nashville Predators in the only opening-round series to end in four games.

Now, they are one win away from a second-round series victory over the St. Louis Blues. Colorado has a 3-1 lead and will be on its home ice for Wednesday's Game 5 matchup.

            

Wednesday Schedule, Odds

Game 5: St. Louis Blues (+210; bet $100 to win $210) at Colorado Avalanche (-260; bet $260 to win $100), 8 p.m. ET, TNT

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

              

The Avalanche on Clear Path to Stanley Cup Final

There's a good chance the Avalanche are going to win Game 5 against the Blues on Wednesday night. They have lost only one game this postseason (Game 2 vs. St. Louis at home), and their offense is now rolling in this series.

After scoring only four goals over the first two games against the Blues, the Avs have tallied 11 over the past two contests. Meanwhile, goaltender Darcy Kuemper continues to be solid in the net. He has a .917 save percentage in seven playoff games, having allowed only 14 total goals.

It shouldn't be surprising. Colorado was strong all season, and that hasn't stopped now that the stakes are much higher. So don't be surprised when the Avs end their second-round series on Wednesday. They're not overlooking the Blues, and that will help them close things out.

"We know they're going to come with their best game, and we have to bring ours as well," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said, per NHL.com's Ryan Boulding.

However, let's go one step beyond the Avalanche's probable Game 5 win. Not only will they need only one more game to put away the Blues, but they're also going to have no trouble with either the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames in the Western Conference Final. (And it'll likely be the Oilers, who took a 3-1 lead in that series on Tuesday.)

Colorado came into this year's playoffs hungry for postseason success. It had been eliminated in the second round in each of the previous three years, and it hadn't made it past that point since 2002.

Those recent playoff exits may have helped this year's team, which now has players with more experience of these high-intensity postseason contests. That's been clear with how the Avs have continued to perform throughout May.

Cale Makar, a 23-year-old defenseman, leads Colorado in postseason points (12 on three goals and nine assists). But there have been plenty of veterans playing instrumental roles for the team on both ends of the ice.

Edmonton or Calgary will pose a bigger challenge than St. Louis. Still, it won't matter.

Colorado is the best team in the Western Conference, it has been all season and will continue to be so. The Avalanche may not win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001, but they'll at least have an opportunity to do so. And they'll move a step closer with a win on Wednesday.


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