Here we preview the NFL Eastern Conference to aid in our upcoming NHL betting for the 2013-14 season.
The Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 2nd time in the last 3 years last season before falling to Chicago. The Bruins lost some key players this offseason. Gone are 3 of their 5 top goal scorers from a season ago. Jaromir Jagr signed with New Jersey, Nathan Horton signed a huge free agent deal with Columbus, and former can’t miss prospect Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas.
Boston obtained right wing Loui Eriksson from Dallas in the Tyler Seguin deal. Eriksson had 12 goals and 17 assists while playing in all 48 games for the Stars a year ago. They were finally able to sign veteran Jarome Ignilia via free agency. Ignilia was thought to be signed, sealed, and delivered at last season’s trade deadline only to see the deal fall through.
The Bruins defense is collectively the best group in the Eastern Conference hands down. Tuukka Rask was brilliant in the Bruins run to the finals and barring injury will be the mainstay in goal for many years to come. Claude Julien has done a terrific job since becoming the head coach in Boston.
The Bruins have all the pieces in place to make another successful deep playoff run. They have a surplus of depth in the organization, solid goaltending, and an excellent coaching staff. I love their chances in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are a very good value at 8:1 to win the Stanley Cup.
Buffalo Sabres: 75:1
When the Sabres had no money to spend the team consistently challenged for the top billing in the Eastern Conference. Now they have an owner in Terry Pegula who’s willing to spend the money needed to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. Unfortunately they’ve made monumental mistakes with free agent signings since he arrived on the scene. The Sabres franchise goalie Ryan Miller, and their leading scorer from a year ago Thomas Vanek have been openly publicized by the organization to be on the trading block. This is a sure tell sign the small market franchise is in a rebuilding mode. Somehow General Manager Darcy Regier has managed to hold on to his job. Buffalo’s long time head coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t as fortunate after being fired early last season. If you are considering a wager on the Sabres I would suggest you defer to your favorite charity organization instead. The money would be better spent.
Carolina Hurricanes: 50-1
It seems like an eternity since Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe and the Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup. The Canes fans can hold on to their memories because there will be nothing to remember about the upcoming season.
Columbus Blue Jackets: 40-1
I like what the President of Hockey Operations John Davidson is building in Columbus. Unfortunately I still believe they’re a year away from serious consideration. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them be in contention for a playoff spot next April.
Detroit Red Wings: 15-1
It’s very strange when referring to the Red Wings as an Eastern Conference team. The NHL will have a new look for the 2013-2014 season. There will be two divisions in each conference. The Red Wings will be a member of the Atlantic Division with the 5 teams from last year’s Northeast Division in addition to Florida and Tampa Bay. Detroit and Columbus have come over to the East and Winnipeg goes out West. The Eastern Conference automatically just became stronger as a result.
Detroit made a strong push last season down the stretch of the regular season to qualify the playoffs as a #7 seed. The Red Wings then pulled off a first round upset of the #2 seeded Anaheim Ducks. They then lost a heart breaking 7-game series to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks losing the deciding 7th game in sudden death overtime. The experience they gained a year ago will pay big dividends this season.
The Red Wings are in great shape in goal with the veteran Jimmy Howard. Howard has an impressive postseason resume. The Wings will be bolstered by the acquisition of long time Ottawa Senator right wing Daniel Alfedsson. The 40 year old isn’t the player he used to be but comes off a productive season with a Senators team that advanced to last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. He will have the luxury of being surrounded with more offensive firepower in Detroit. I really like the mixture of youth and veterans in Detroit. They are well worth a flyer at 15-1.
Florida Panthers: 100-1
You have a better chance of winning the lottery than placing a wager on the Panthers to win next season’s Stanley Cup. This continues to be a dysfunctional organization that takes two steps back every time they take one step forward.
Montreal Canadians: 30-1
If Carey Price can play up to his potential this team can be a live long shot at 30-1. We mustn’t forget this is a club that won the Northeast Division last season and finished 2nd only to Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference standings. They also employ last season’s Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban. They obtained Danny Briere via free agency during the offseason. Briere comes off a terrible year for the Flyers but can possibly be rejuvenated by returning to his roots. The Canadians chances will center on how strong they are in goal. I don’t like wagering on teams that have question marks in net. Hoping that a goaltender regains his confidence is like staying in a poker hand and trying to catch an inside straight. It’s possible but not probable.
New Jersey Devils: 40-1
This proud organization will suffer through some growing pains before things start heading back in the right direction. They may have enough to make a serious push at making the playoffs but anything beyond that isn’t realistic.
New York Islanders: 30-1
The Islanders proved last season that they have the offensive firepower to play with anyone. They still have some deficiencies on the blue line that need to be cleaned up. Evgeni Nabokov must play better in goal for the Islanders in order to possibly make a deep playoff run. There are too many question marks on the back end for me to stick my neck out here.
New York Rangers: 10-1
The Rangers fired John Tortorella as expected after they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals. Former Vancouver Canucks had coach Alan Vigneault takes over behind the bench for the Blue Shirts. A change of voice and direction may be just what the doctor ordered. As long as you have Henrik Lundquist in goal you have a legitimate chance of beating anyone with even a ordinary supporting cast. The Rangers possess much more than that and are one of my favorites in the East.
Ottawa Senators: 20-1
The Senators are well coached and vastly overachieved a year ago. They lack the offensive firepower needed to get them over the hump. Expectations will be high but I don’t see the Senators living up to them. It’s very difficult task to sneak up on teams 2 years in a row especially when the season will be 82 games and not 48 like a year ago.
Philadelphia Flyers: 35-1
The Flyers organization is starting to remind me of the Yankees when George Steinbrenner was in charge. If you keep throwing darts at the board some will stick, and eventually one will hit the intended target. I am passing on this one even at these intriguing odds.
The Penguins had a superb regular season finishing 9 points ahead of Montreal for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They then proceeded to be a major disappointment come playoff time. The Islanders gave the Penguins all they can handle in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals pushing then to 6 games before being eliminated. The Bruins just thoroughly embarrassed them in a 4-0 sweep in the Conference Finals. At the end of the day this team has a surplus of talent. However, until they get any kind of consistent play in goal during postseason they’re overvalued at these betting odds.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 40-1
Is there still a team in Tampa Bay? When you describe the beauty of the state of Florida hockey doesn’t come to mind. When we start discuss Stanley Cup futures neither does the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: 30-1
You just have to feel for Maple Leaf fans. Can you think of anything more gut wrenching as a sports fan, than to endure what they had to witness in game 7 of the first round versus Boston last season. I really like this club. However my personal experience tells me that this team won’t bounce back from the highly unusual circumstances that went against them in last season’s playoffs. I will be the first one to tip my hat if I’m wrong.
Washington Capitals: 15-1
Will Alex Ovechkin ever lead this team to the promise land? They have no excuse for losing to the Rangers in the first round last season. The Capitals will be very good again. They will contend for the top spot in the East. Then when push comes to shove they’ll find away to fall apart at crunch time. It’s just in the organizational DNA.