2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Maple Leafs, Blues, Canes, Kings Have Work To Do

Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd chases down Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., Feb. 28, 2022. (Image: Brian Murphy, All-Pro Reels)
Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd chases down Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., Feb. 28, 2022. (Image: Brian Murphy, All-Pro Reels)

With the Colorado Avalanche already through to the second round, the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing. Fortunately for NHL fans, there’s still plenty of juicy postseason action to watch tonight, including elimination games.

It’s time for a Cup Vibe Check. Let’s get into it.

Toronto Maple Leafs Inch Towards Second Round

You probably don’t need me to relitigate the Toronto Maple Leafs’ miserable playoff record in the salary cap era: they capitulated against the Montreal Canadiens last year and haven’t won a series since 2004. It’s been pretty bleak at Scotiabank Arena for a while.

However, there’s a chance that it’s finally the Leafs’ year in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 heading into Game 6, with Sheldon Keefe’s squad battling from behind in Game 5 to lock up a dramatic win on home ice.

“I don’t think tonight [Toronto’s 4-3 win over Tampa] is going to matter if we don’t take the next step: the hardest step,” Keefe told reporters.

Standing in Toronto’s way are the Lightning, back-to-back Stanley Cup hoisters.

“We are here to win the series,” Tampa head coach Jon Cooper explained after Game 5. “We lost a game tonight, we let this one slip away, [and] that is on us. But we haven’t let the series slip away. We let a game slip away. That is how you look at it.”

In a 00:30 face-off on Friday [13 May], the Lightning face playoff elimination: they must win at Amalie Arena to keep their hopes of replicating the Cardiff Devils’ magical postseason threepeat alive.

“You have to play it game by game,” said Cooper. “In our run here, I think we have had one elimination game. What was the tell-tale sign of the elimination game? We didn’t give up any goals. I am not saying you have to do that again, but that has to be a mindset of ours that at times tonight got away from us.”

Will the Leafs break their playoff curse, or will Tampa continue their postseason dominance? We’ll soon find out.

Boston Bruins Face Elimination From 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

With the Carolina Hurricanes leading 3-2, the Boston Bruins are just one defeat away from elimination. However, the team from Massachusetts have shown plenty of bouncebackability in round one, rebounding from 5-1 and 5-2 losses to open the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In tonight’s 00:00 face-off, Carolina will attempt to end the series with a road win in Boston knowing they must make the most of their power play opportunities versus a solid Bruins defence.

“Special teams are huge,” Tony DeAngelo said after netting at five-on-four in Game 5. “You’ve got to just keep it going. One game is not enough. We’ve got to have this power play consistent. Every time we go out there it’s got to be a threat. Boston is a threat every time they go out there. We know that. We’ve got to be a threat every time.”

Staying out of the box will be integral for both teams in Game 6: power play goals have defined the series so far, with tighter officiating in this year’s playoffs making an impact.

It’s never wise to write off Boston, though. They’ll come out fighting in a last-ditch attempt to avoid elimination at the hands of the Atlantic Division champions.

Jordan Binnington Retakes St. Louis Blues’ Net

After a prolonged goalie controversy in St. Louis, Jordan Binnington has retaken control of the Blues’ net. He replaced Ville Husso before Game 4, backstopping the Missouri outfit to back-to-back wins and a 3-2 series lead over the Minnesota Wild.

Related: St. Louis Blues Face Goaltending Controversy

“That’s why we play. These are fun moments,” Binnington said of his 28-save performance in Game 4. “There’s adversity, and it’s just backing it up and picking yourself up and trying to get back at it again. It was an opportunity for me tonight, and we played a heck of a game, we kept it tight. Now we just shift our focus to next game and prepare.”

In a 02:30 face-off on Friday, St. Louis and Minnesota return to the ice with the series on the line. Craig Berube’s Blues, just one win from the second round, have last-change advantage in Game 6 and are favourites to escape the series.

However, it’s never wise to discount Minnesota’s chances – especially considering Krill Karpizov’s electric form. He’s notched eight points (seven goals, one assist) in five playoff appearances this term, coming in clutch for the Wild time and time again. But does he have enough in the tank to extend their run in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Will Connor McDavid’s Playoff Woes Continue?

Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are in a tricky situation: they trail the LA Kings 3-2 and stand on the cusp of further playoff disappointment. To make matters worse, Jay Woodcroft’s squad are the road team for Game 6 – meaning they must win in Los Angeles to keep their postseason hopes alive.

2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs - After featuring for Team North America in 2016, Connor McDavid could captain Team Canada at the 2024 World Cup of Hockey (Image: Brian Murphy, All-Pro Reels)
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Image: Brian Murphy, All-Pro Reels)

“The answer lies in the room,” Leon Draisaitl said after the Oilers’ overtime loss in Game 5. “We’ve got to come out a little harder. We’ve got to come out with our skating legs underneath us. We haven’t had that the last couple of games — really, not in any games in the series.”

We’ll find out at 03:00 on Friday if the German superstar is right: only a victory will save Edmonton from elimination from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Who will win the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Join the conversation by tweeting your answer to @BritIceHockey.

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