We’re moving on with 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 (+675) – We still think that the defending Stanley Cup champs have the best team in the league, and though they aren’t getting all of the respect in the world because of the division they are in, we know that come playoff time, the fact that the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche have had good regular seasons to date won’t matter. Going through a West Coast swing and coming away with five wins in six games is a good indication of things to come for the Blackhawks, especially knowing that the squad has done all of this work without G Nikolai Khabibulin. If Chicago is winning on the road against the best of the West having to play a few games with a third string goalie, we have all of the confidence in the world that this remains the best team in the league.
2: Boston Bruins (+825) – The Bruins’ lives were made a heck of a lot easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning lost their captain and one of the best players in the entire league, C Steven Stamkos. Though the Detroit Red Wings are still definitely competitors, but for the most part, Boston is the only team we think has a shot to win the Atlantic Division. G Tuukka Rask remains one of the best goalies in the game, and his 14 wins and 1.90 GAA make him a definitive Vezina Trophy contender. When we get to the postseason, it’s all about goaltending, and Rask has shown no signs of weakening at this point. It’s really tough to argue with the B’s and their place as Stanley Cup contenders, and this +825 price is a great one in our eyes, especially knowing that their offense is going to pick it up eventually.
3: New York Rangers (+2500) – The Rangers have played 26 games this year, but only nine of those games have come at Madison Square Garden. Only nine of those games have come with LW Rick Nash in the lineup. Only about nine of those games have been effective games for G Henrik Lundqvist. There is a point that the Rangers are who they are, but we have to think that they are going to be better than a .500 team at some point this year. We remain concerned about how this offense is playing. Nash should have more than six points in nine games, D Marc Staal should have more than three points in 26 games, C Brad Richards should have more than 18 points in 26 games. All that said, New York is going to win games at the Garden eventually, and that should definitively make this one of the best four teams or so in the Eastern Conference when push comes to shove.
4: Philadelphia Flyers (+8000) – We know that anyone who gets into the playoffs could successfully go on a huge tear. We’ve seen it time and time again, and the Flyers might be the next team that we can get at a great price. They started at just 1-7-0 this year through eight games, and since that point, they are a very respectable 10-5-2, one of the best marks in the Metropolitan Division. There really isn’t a team aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins who can really dominate in this division, and everyone, even the 8-15-3 New York Islanders, are still absolutely in the thick of the fight to get into the second season. There are enough stars here on this team which can carry the club in the playoffs in C Vincent Lecavalier and RW Claude Giroux, and if this team keeps winning just more than half of its games for the next several weeks, we’ll see this become a 40 to 1 team instead of an 80 to 1 team to win the Stanley Cup.
5: Columbus Blue Jackets (+10000) – A few weeks ago, we suggested backing the Blue Jackets at 50 to 1, and now that we are getting 100 to 1, we are going to be jumping again. We are largely using the same logic here for the Blue Jackets we were using for the Flyers. Who in the heck are the teams which are getting into the playoffs in the Metropolitan Division? Columbus is only five points back of the second place Washington Capitals, and though there are a lot of teams to hop over, we just don’t see why the boys from the Buckeye State can be the team to get up there. G Sergei Bobrovsky won 21 games last season and had a 2.00 GAA. If he can catch fire at some point like he did at the end of last season, there is a real chance that Columbus could take a big time jump in the right direction and back into the playoff picture.
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.