With the NHL postseason now well and truly underway, there are just four teams left battling to be crowned 2021 Stanley Cup winners. Over the next two weeks, the Conference Finals will be played to determine which franchises will be heading to the Stanley Cup Finals.
We’re almost at the end of the NHL season, but there’s still plenty of hockey to be played. With an adjusted season schedule and format, each of the four division winners will now play each other in the Conference Finals.
There were some close encounters in the second round of the playoffs, but four teams have shone above the rest of the league. Now, it’s all to play for. The first game of the series starts on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the four teams battling it out for the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The reigning, defending Stanley Cup winners have defeated some tough teams in their route to the Conference Finals. That includes a convincing 4-1 series win against the Central Division winners, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Now, the Lightning will be looking to their main men to get the job done against their opponents – the New York Islanders – in their Conference Final series. Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat have led the Lightning roster in terms of scoring points, and will need to be on form in their upcoming series.
New York Islanders
Despite finishing in fourth place in the East Division in the regular season, the New York Islanders overcame two division rivals in the playoffs. In the first round, the Islanders shocked the Pittsburgh Penguins and came away with a 4-2 series win to progress.
Then, in the second round of the playoffs, another 4-2 victory in the series – this time against the Boston Bruins – has proved that the New York franchise should not be overlooked. However, they now face arguably their toughest test yet in the Conference Finals, against last season’s Stanley Cup champions.
Vegas Golden Knights
In the other Conference Final matchup, we will see the Golden Knights in action, after their strong performances in this season’s postseason. After finishing second in the West Division (level on points with the Colorado Avalanche in first), the Golden Knights just about defeated the Minnesota Wild, with a 4-3 win in the series.
Then, in the second round, the Golden Knights were the final team of the four to win their series, beating the Avalanche 4-2 overall. Winger Mark Stone has been in good form for Vegas this season, and will look to continue his scoring in the Conference Finals.
The Montreal Canadiens are currently in the history books for the most Stanley Cup wins in the league. With a total of 24 Stanley Cups, the Canadiens are way ahead of the rest of the franchises in the list – nine more than fellow Canadian side the Toronto Maple Leafs who sit second in the list.
As well as that, Montreal have made 10 more Stanley Cup appearances than any other team in the league, as both stats bode well for the Canadiens heading into the Conference Final matchup with Vegas. After beating the Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs, the Canadiens head into the first game of the series full of confidence.
NHL Conference Finals – Betting Odds
Will the Tampa Bay Lightning win consecutive Stanley Cups? If so, they would be the first NHL franchise to do so since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016/2017, and that was almost 20 years after it had been done previously (Red Wings in 1997/1998).
Will one of the other three NHL franchises get their hands on the Stanley Cup? Well, if you fancy placing a bet on the Conference Finals, then we recommend checking out BetMGM today – the bookmaker with the leading US sportsbook!
Jordan Noble is a writer that really enjoys discussing anything in and around the world of sports. He’s in his element when talking about sports, and has an ever-growing portfolio of sports news, features and reviews. When he’s not writing, you’ll find Jordan playing football – American football, that is.
He knows Manchester United are the biggest club in the world. He says that it’s just straight up facts. He loves a fight, whether that’s inside an octagon, or between the ropes, he’ll be interested.