The Atlantic Division has the best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yet other than the Lightning and a couple of other clubs, this division is littered with play-against clubs.
When looking at the standings the morning of Jan. 5, this what we are talking about regarding the Atlantic Division:
Florida 17-22 SU
Detroit 16-23 SU
Montreal 17-24 SU
Ottawa 12-26 SU
Buffalo 10-30 SU
That is awful. The only saving grace it seems for this group of five is somebody has to win when they play each other. As bad as those standings look, let's insert what this has meant when adding in the NHL odds and configuring a wagering outlook. (Warning: Young children are advised to look away.)
Florida -5.4 units
Full disclosure: Ahe Atlantic is home to three of five worst bets in the hockey. So what happened that there is so many poor teams in this division? Let's look into it.
Coming into the season, we knew Detroit and Buffalo were rebuilding. The Red Wings front office was the only one who thought they were further along, but anyone making NHL picks or really following the game closely knew that was not the case. It was a given the Sabres were going to take their lumps.
Florida won this division two years ago, but that team caught lightning in a bottle, and a series of front office gaffes has sent this franchise backward.
Montreal appeared to be on the rise a couple seasons ago. The Habs had the right idea about the speed of the game changing; however, the players were on the smaller side. When the next wave of talent arrived around the league, everyone had players just as fast as the Canadiens and they were physically bigger. Montreal went from advantageous position to negative one. Add in trades that did not work out and the younger players on the roster not improving, and it is easier to comprehend why they are 29th in scoring and 23rd in goals allowed.
Ottawa is a far more curious story. Last spring, the Senators took Pittsburgh to Game 7 of the Eastern Finals and lost in the second overtime. Ottawa got hot at the right time and overachieved, yet most expected the Senators to be above .500 and return to postseason. The development of the Ottawa forwards was expected and it has not occurred, ranked 28th in scoring. Trading Kyle Turris has not helped. Last season the Sens were 10th in goals surrendered, this year they are 28th. Goaltenders Craig Anderson and Mike Condon have save percentages below .900 and there has been inconsistent play in front of them.
Maybe one or more of these teams will come around, but nothing suggests improvement at this time.
Nailed It On Boston
Do not always get a chance to look into the future and be correct. In our last Atlantic Division report, we suggested Boston might be a "Play On" team, with all their key players back from injury and younger players fitting into the mix. Those thoughts proved accurate, with the Bruins 16-5 SU since Nov. 16.Bet On NHL Futures At SBR's Top-Rated Sportsbooks