A week is said and done with in the 2013-14 NHL betting season, and we’re going to take this time to analyze what we are seeing and make our Stanley Cup picks for the road ahead.
1: Chicago Blackhawks (+650) – The bottom line here for the Blackhawks is that we think they are going to win the Central Division, and just from that standpoint, they should be better than +650 to win it all. The Central Division really only has one serious contender in it (St. Louis), and it is clear that Chicago has the better side of these two teams. We’re a little concerned that it has been two games and LW Patrick Sharp hasn’t found the stat sheet yet, but that’s not the end of the world either. The Blackhawks will continue to score goals, and when it’s all said and done with, they’ll once again have one of the best offenses and one of the best defenses in hockey. They were the biggest winners this year in realignment, and we know that they are going to capitalize with the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
2: Vancouver Canucks (+2000) – We’re skipping just a bit, as we really think that the teams at the top of the rankings are just not featuring great Stanley Cup odds. Vancouver has a new coach in Head Coach John Tortorella, and as a result, this is a team that is a lot more prepared for the second season than it has been in the past with Head Coach Alain Vigneault. We have only seen the Canucks play two games this year, and they have split those games. The Pacific Division isn’t quite as easy as the Northwest Division was, but we have no worries about this being one of the best eight teams out of 14 in the West to get into the second season. It’s when this team gets into the playoffs that we become concerned, and we think that G Roberto Luongo has a lot more going for him now with G Cory Schneider gone, and that could make Vancouver a decent bet, especially at this price.
3: New York Rangers (+2800) – We spoke about Tortorella and his old team, and we may as well talk about Vigneault and his new team as well. The Rangers didn’t look good in their first game of the year against the Coyotes, and they probably aren’t going to get off to a good start to this year, knowing that their first nine are played away from Madison Square Garden. However, if Vigneault can really get this team playing well offensively and get some goals on the board, G Henrik Lundqvist could take care of the rest. This would be the first time in quite some time that Vigneault didn’t have a goaltending issue whatsoever to deal with in the second season, as New York would be riding and dying with the Swedish net minder. It could be a much friendlier situation for both of these coaches to be switching teams.
4: Colorado Avalanche (+3300) – Here’s the thing about the Avalanche. Do they have a goalie at this point? No, they really don’t. But what they do have is a team that has played tremendously hard hockey in the first two games of the season. We love what we see, and we think that Head Coach Patrick Roy would have this team ready to play in the playoffs, even with G Semyon Varlamov in the pipes. C Nathan MacKinnon is proving to be the real deal, and it will be fun to watch him mature. There are some young pieces in place in Colorado that could be legit, and if you discount Calgary as a team that is a joke, there are only five other teams to beat out to get into the playoffs. We’ll take our chances, though we know that the road is still quite a long one at this point.
5: Columbus Blue Jackets (+5000) – We’ll take our chances on the Blue Jackets at 50 to 1. This is a team that has been building for these next few seasons, and though it would be a bit early to think that this club has arrived as a contender, we can see it getting into the playoffs. The Jackets definitely aren’t the worst team in the Metropolitan Division, as Carolina is really bad, and some of those holdovers from the old Atlantic Division might be suspect as well. However, outside of the Penguins, is there a team in this division that you can confidently say is absolutely better than Columbus is? We aren’t so sure that we would be willing to take that step. The Blue Jackets nearly got into the second season in the Western Conference last year, and now that they are in the Eastern Conference, they might be able to take that next step and at least get into the playoffs. At that point, we would trust that G Sergei Bobrovsky could win the Stanley Cup one out of 50 times.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.