NHL Playoffs Preview: Can Tampa Bay make it three Stanley Cup titles in a row?

The 2021-2022 NHL Playoffs are set to begin this week and the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking for their third straight Stanley Cup title. But for the Bolts to defend their title make no mistake about it this year it will be a much tougher road as they might not even be the best team in the Sunshine State with the Florida Panthers sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

Early odds makers such as BetNow sportsbook, do not favor a third straight Stanley Cup win for the Lightning. At the moment the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and the Calgary Flames are all the teams favored to have the best odds to win the 2021-2022 title. 

In the Atlantic Division Tampa Bay will open the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the of the third seed and face the No. 2 seed Toronto Maple Leafs. Top seeded Florida will host the No. 2 Wildcard Washington Capitals in their first round series.

Rounding out the East Playoff Stanley Cup first round will be the Metropolitan Division final four. Top seeded Carolina will open against the No.1 Wildcard Boston while it will be No. 2 New York Rangers vs. No. 3 Pittsburgh in a battle of two playoff tested teams.

Out in the Western Conference it looks like a showdown between Colorado and Calgary but there are some very talented teams who have other ideas. There will be some dangerous first round matchups where there could be some upsets that could change who the favorites very quickly.

We can start with the Central Division where the top seeded Colorado will face an unpredictable Nashville team that locked down the second Wildcard slot. Then comes a series with two of the West’s most dangerous teams as No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 3 St. Louis.

Finally, in the Pacific Division it will be No. 1 seed Calgary entertaining the feisty Wild-Card No. 1 dallas team that has a history of being a playoff pest. Meanwhile, the series between No. 2 Edmonton vs. No. 3 Los Angeles promises to be a very entertaining battle.

The way the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs work is that each matchup is a best-of-seven series across every round. The first-round winners in each division will play each other in the second round.

Home-ice advantage belongs to the team with the best seed in the first two rounds. The team with the highest regular-season points total earns home ice in the conference final and Stanley Cup Final.

New Television partners start this season with TNT/TBS and ABC/ESPN taking over from NBC. Things get started on May 2nd with ESPN/ESPN 2 getting opening night coverage as well as the first three nights. On Thursday May 5th things move over to TNT/TBS and also Friday the 6th action will stay on the Turner Networks.

The networks will then alternate depending on the night so be sure to check your local listings. The Stanley Cup Conference Cup Finals will work as they do in the NBA with ESPN and Turner.


Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals

Tuesday, May 3: Capitals at Panthers, 7:30, ESPN2

Thursday, May 5: Capitals at Panthers, 7:30, TBS

Saturday, May 7: Panthers at Capitals, 1, ESPN

Monday, May 9: Panthers at Capitals, 7, TBS

*Wednesday, May 11: Capitals at Panthers, TBD

*Friday, May 13: Panthers at Capitals, Friday, TBD

*Sunday, May 15: Capitals at Panthers, TBD

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins

Monday, May 2: Bruins at Hurricanes, 7, ESPN

Wednesday, May 4: Bruins at Hurricanes, 7, ESPN

Friday, May 6: Hurricanes at Bruins, 7, TNT

Sunday, May 8: Hurricanes at Bruins, 12:30 p.m., ESPN

*Tuesday, May 10: Bruins at Hurricanes, TBD

*Thursday, May 12: Hurricanes at Bruins, TBD

*Saturday, May 14: Bruins at Hurricanes, TBD

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Tuesday, May 3: Penguins at Rangers, 7, ESPN

Thursday, May 5: Penguins at Rangers, 7, TNT

Saturday, May 7: Rangers at Penguins, 7, TNT

Monday, May 9: Rangers at Penguins, 7, ESPN

*Wednesday, May 11: Penguins at Rangers, TBD

*Friday, May 13: Rangers at Penguins, TBD

*Sunday, May 15: Penguins at Rangers, TBD

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Monday, May 2: Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7:30, ESPN2

Wednesday, May 4: Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7:30, ESPN2

Friday, May 6: Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7:30, TBS

Sunday, May 8: Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7, TBS

*Tuesday, May 10: Lightning at Maple Leafs, TBD

*Thursday, May 12: Maple Leafs at Lightning, TBD

*Saturday, May 14: Lightning at Maple Leafs, TBD

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators

Tuesday, May 3: Predators at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, May 5: Predators at Avalanche, 9:30, TNT

Saturday, May 7: Avalanche at Predators, 4:30 p.m., TNT

Monday, May 9: Avalanche at Predators, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

*Wednesday, May 11: Predators at Avalanche, TBD

*Friday, May 13: Avalanche at Predators, TBD

*Sunday, May 15: Predators at Avalanche, TBD

Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars

Tuesday, May 3: Stars at Flames, 10, ESPN2

Thursday, May 5: Stars at Flames, 10, TBS

Saturday, May 7: Flames at Stars, 9:30 p.m., TNT

Monday, May 9: Flames at Stars, 9:30 p.m., TBS

*Wednesday, May 11: Stars at Flames, TBD

*Friday, May 13: Flames at Stars, TBD

*Sunday, May 15: Stars at Flames, TBD

Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues

Monday, May 2: Blues at Wild, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, May 4: Blues at Wild, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Friday, May 6: Wild at Blues, 9:30 p.m., TNT

Sunday, May 8: Wild at Blues, 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS

*Tuesday, May 10: Blues at Wild, TBD

*Thursday, May 12: Wild at Blues, TBD

*Saturday, May 14: Blues at Wild, TBD

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

Monday, May 2: Kings at Oilers, 10, ESPN2

Wednesday, May 4: Kings at Oilers, 10, ESPN2

Friday, May 6: Oilers at Kings, 10, TBS

Sunday, May 8: Oilers at Kings, 10, TBS

*Tuesday, May 10: Kings at Oilers, TBD

*Thursday, May 12: Oilers at Kings, TBD

*Saturday, May 14: Kings at Oilers, TBD–