NHL Playoffs 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for May 31 Schedule

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2022

DENVER, CO - MAY 25: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates after scoring a third period goal past St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso (35) for hit third goal of the game during a Stanley Cup Playoffs round 2 game between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on May 25, 2022. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Tuesday marks the beginning of the NHL conference finals, and the first game on the schedule is between the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers in the West.

To get here, the Avalanche swept the Nashville Predators and beat St. Louis Blues in five, while the Oilers needed seven games to beat the Los Angeles Kings and five to advance past the Calgary Flames.

Game 1 will be played in Denver, so the Avs will have the home crowd behind them as these teams meet for the third time in the postseason.

This is the first time Edmonton has featured in the conference finals since 2006, when it went on to lose the Stanley Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Avalanche haven't made it this far since 2002, when it lost in seven to the Detroit Red Wings.


Edmonton at Colorado Game 1 Info

Start Time: 8 p.m. ET 


Live Stream: TNTdrama.com and TNT app


Game Odds

Money Line: Colorado (-175; bet $175 to win $100); St. Louis (+150; bet $100 to win $150) 

Over/Under: 7

Puck Line: Edmonton (+1.5; -155), Colorado (-1.5; +135) 


Nathan MacKinnon vs. Connor McDavid Headlines Series

In the matchup between Colorado and Edmonton, most NHL analysts have the former advancing, but both teams have one of the league's best players suiting up for their side.

For this year's playoffs, Connor McDavid sits alone at the top of the leaderboard for points with 26 for the Oilers. In 12 playoff games, he's recorded seven goals and 19 assists.

DraftKings Sportsbook @DKSportsbook


Nathan MacKinnon hasn't been quite as explosive as far as numbers on the board, but he's posted 13 points in 10 games for Colorado, including four points in Game 5 against the Blues.

However, the 26-year-old isn't focused on individual matchups, although he knows what he's up against in McDavid.

"Hopefully, that [storyline] gets more viewers and lowers escrow [for players], but other than that I don't care," MacKinnon said, per ESPN's Kristen Shilton. "I'm not really thinking about [McDavid] a whole lot, but obviously I see that stuff. I think he's the best, I've said it. I think he's been the best for a little bit now and it's going to take a full team effort to stop him."

The two big-name stars might be playing down their matchup, but Colorado defenseman Cale Makar recognises the quality in both.

For The Win @ForTheWin

Nathan MacKinnon went coast-to-coast for this sensational goal that decimated the Blues defense. https://t.co/tFRx4YeHyp

"There's a lot of similarities between MacKinnon and McDavid," he said. "But at the same time, they're very different playing styles. McDavid's very good off the rush and very fast and he's got the quick steps right at the beginning. They're both such electric players and McDavid's been the driving force for them as well as their other their other top guys. He'll be a good test, but we're all excited."

While all eyes will be on McDavid and MacKinnon, this series will come down to which team is ready to shake off many years of playoff disappointment for the chance to play for another Stanley Cup.


Conn Smythe, Anyone?

For this series, it's hard to move away from the matchup between MacKinnon and McDavid, and that's not just because of how they could light it up.

This contest is also a major talking point because the Conn Smythe Trophy is on the line.

Coming into the series, most analysts have McDavid in the lead for the annual award, which is given to the most valuable player for their team in the playoffs.

However, McDavid's case is inextricably tied to the Oilers' playoff fate. If Edmonton wins, it's a no-brainer for the Ontario native to take home the hardware.

On the other hand, MacKinnon is gaining momentum as a favorite for the award as the playoffs progress.

He's got some stiff competition on his own team in Makar, who's having a stellar postseason, but MacKinnon is gaining and needs just to have a signature round of play against the Oilers to make his case.

No matter who wins the Conn Smythe, though, it's the fans who win in the end. They get to see two No. 1 draft picks go head-to-head in some of the most important games in either player's career.

And with a Stanley Cup Final appearance on the line, fans can expect to see both rise to the challenge.