We’ve hit the All-Star Break, which means it’s the perfect time for reflecting. There’s been a lot we’ve taken from the first half of action and here are the biggest NHL betting lessons we’ve learned:
The Champs Are In Trouble
The Los Angeles Kings have had some sluggish regular seasons before and still managed to make the playoffs and make a run, but this team looks different. In those seasons, offense was their main issue as they labored to score in the regular season but then flipped the switch in the playoffs. Those teams were fantastic in their own end, though. However, this Kings team is currently a mess and wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if they started today. Since starting 14-7-5, they’ve dropped 12 of 18 and are having a really tough time keeping their opponents from scoring. While the Kings led the NHL in this category last season (2.05 goals per game), but they’re allowing 3.33 goals per game this month. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has an .863 save percentage this month, which is horrendous. On the road this season, he has just three wins in 15 starts with an .899 save percentage. This team has to improve defensively or they’re finished.
Changing Of The Guards In The West
As the Kings fall down – as do a number of teams – new contenders rise. If the playoffs started today, four of the Western Conference teams that made playoffs last season would not make it this season. Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Los Angeles would miss the cut and would be replaced by Nashville, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary. We’ll see if it holds up but that’s a lot of turnover for what was supposed to be the stronger of the two conferences.
The East Is Wide Open
We entered the season wondering who would be able to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins but as we sit at the All-Star Break, the Bruins are barely making the cut as the No. 8 seed while the Penguins are mired in a massive slump (lost 10 of 14). That means the Eastern Conference is wide open with a bunch of quality yet unproven contenders. There’s the New York Islanders, who look great but are still very young, Tampa Bay looks strong but hasn’t ventured deep into the playoffs with their current roster and there’s the hot and cold Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. Of course, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers are both in the mix but both have some flaws too. As of now, the East is a wide open race and if you’re placing your NHL futures picks, you can probably make a good case for three or four teams to emerge from this conference.
Canada’s Back In Business?
It’s been over two decades since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup and while there have been four Canadian teams that have made it to the Stanley cup finals since that span, none have been able to seal the deal. Last season, there was just one Canadian team in the playoffs as Montreal was the lone representative, although they did venture all the way to the Eastern Conference final.
However, if the playoffs started today, there would be four Canadians teams on the inside: Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. That would be a welcome change north of the border where Canadian fan live and breathe the sport.