We're nearing the finish line of the 2021-22 season, even though it feels like it began yesterday.
Quite a bit can still change from now and the start of the playoffs in May. Here's a look at a few projected series' that could happen, and one that would produce incredible action:
Florida vs. Washington
No matter who wins this series, the odds trend towards this series being a true gem. The Panthers lead the season series 2-0-1, but every game between these two teams have featured one-goal games. Florida has shown all season long they're a team to watch as they sit on top of the Eastern Conference with 94 points and led by the strength of Jonathan Huberdeau's 89 points.
Washington would come into match up as the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference, but don't count out a team with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom firing on all cylinders.
Edmonton vs. Los Angeles
The Edmonton dynamos vs. the upstart Kings. This has the potential to be a fun one. These two teams have played twice, with the season series currently split at one apiece.
Edmonton's forward core, as usual, is lead by the likes of Connor McDavid (97 points) and Leon Draisaitl (47 goals) and has also been supported well with the likes of Zack Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi. With a healthy top-nine forward unit in the lineup and the production coming into this series, scoring won't be a problem. Defense and goaltending, though? That's a different story.
The Kings weren't projected to be this strong this year, but they sit in second in the Pacific and in position for their first playoff appearance since 2017-18.
Anze Kopitar hasn't slowed down as the team's top scorer, while veterans such as Drew Doughty and Adrian Kempe and youngster Arthur Kaliyev have stepped up with key contributions this season.
Slowing down the offense of Edmonton will be a tough task but don't expect the Kings to roll over. The advantage in goaltending also goes the way of Los Angeles, Cal Peterson and Jonathan Quick have been reliable in net this season when called upon but the biggest test for this tandem will be one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
Colorado vs. Vegas
Two juggernauts? Sign us up. You don't have to be a fan of either team to get pumped over a series like this.
Colorado leads the season series 2-1, with two of the three games being one-goal affairs. For the Avalanche's core showing that they can take the next step to a Stanley Cup is a major priority, this is a unit that has to show people they can finally get back to at least a conference final.
For the fourth straight season, the Avs will finish with 90 points or more. But for a team with so much firepower over the past 20 years, they haven't made the conference final in 20 years. Colorado has one of the more balanced attacks up and down the lineup. Nazem Kadri leads this team in scoring with 79 points while Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon are all over the 70-point mark.
For Vegas, where do we begin? Never ending injuries has meant this team really hasn't played healthy at all this year, among other issues. Vegas hasn't lived up to expectations, but they're not out of it by any means.
Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson have been leading the way with the likes of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty battling injuries this season. In net, it has been a year that has seen the Golden Knights have to call upon Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit due to the injuries to Robin Lehner. If Lehner is indeed out for the year, that's a huge loss.
At certain points you think has the luck finally run out for Vegas, but don't expect a series like this to end quickly.
Toronto vs. Carolina
Toronto's struggles are well-documented, but will that change this year? The Hurricanes have different plans.
The Maple Leafs lead the season series 2-1, but the games have been thrilling. Both teams have been fantastic offensively, but the real question revolves around the crease battle. The Hurricanes have the edge with former Leaf Frederik Anderson, but he has his own playoff demons to get over. Toronto will likely go with a healthy Jack Campbell, but he needs a big turnaround after a poor two months prior to his injury.
Carolina has been rolling as the top team in the Atlantic Division, currently sitting at 93 points. They're definitely a Cup favorite, and it's hard to bet on the Leafs making it out of the first round. But regardless, this would be a tremendous series.
One series everyone wants to see happen
Edmonton vs Calgary
The NHL might need to make an exception to the standings and have them square off in the first round, regardless of rules.
Saturday night's 9-5 battle had everything you'd want out of a Battle of Alberta series. You have one team with a lot to prove and one that's trending towards being a true Stanley Cup favorite. McDavid vs. Gaudreau? Draisaitl vs. Lindholm? Yes please.