With a very early season on the way and still plenty of action to take place, our NHL betting consultant shares his opinions on four teams that have been early surprises to some degree.
NHL Pleasant and Unpleasant Early Surprises
The season is still very young, and obviously there’s a lot of hockey left to be played. But it’s never too early to discuss some surprise teams at this juncture. I’m going to be discussing two teams that have been pleasant surprises, and two more that have disappointed thus far. All records and streaks in this article are based on money line results.
Dallas Stars (12-3)
Granted the Stars were a playoff team a season ago, and were expected to be even better during this go around. However, their 12-3 start to this season has been awfully impressive, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Dallas is averaging 3.6 goals per game and has converted on a terrific 29.2% of their power play chances. They possess a very formidable goaltending tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. Head coach Lindy Ruff has proven he can get his teams deep into the playoffs. When Ruff was behind the bench in Buffalo, the Sabres reached the conference finals three times, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once. Ironically Buffalo lost that Stanley Cup Final in six games to the Dallas Stars.
New Jersey Devils (8-6)
The Devils were a popular choice to be an Eastern Conference bottom feeder this season. Well the experts certainly looked spot on after they began the year by losing their first four games. Since that time, the Devils have gone 8-2 in their last ten. Cory Schneider is goaltender that’s flown under the radar in recent years, and he’s been a major contributor to this recent surge by New Jersey. I’m not sure they’ll continue at this pace, or even make the playoffs for that matter. What I do know is the Devils will exceed the low expectations that were cast upon them before the season began. This is a team you can catch some money line betting value with at this juncture, and give a boost in regards to rate of return on your NHL picks.
Tampa Bay Lightning (7-9)
This is a team that many experts including myself picked to win the 2016 Stanley Cup. They began the season by winning their first three games, and since then are 4-9 in their last thirteen. They still can achieve those lofty preseason expectations, but as of now they’ve been a huge disappointment. Three of their seven wins have come against an improved but still rebuilding Buffalo Sabres club. Their goal scoring drought in recent games is a real head scratcher. The Lightning has scored 1 goal or less in six of their last nine games, and have been held scoreless on three separate occasions during that stretch. Their recent performances have been inexplicable considering the offensive firepower they possess. I wouldn’t give up on the Lightning just yet. As a matter of fact, NHL betting odds at Bovada have them at +1400 to win the 2016 Stanley Cup. I’ll go out on a limb and say, you won’t get any better NHL Odds than that for the rest of the season, and if you’re going to buy then now might be the opportune time to do so.
Anaheim Ducks (5-9)
In one of my NHL preseason articles for SBR, I predicted it would take Anaheim time to hit their stride this season due to some offseason personnel moves. However, I certainly wasn’t implying they’d begin 1-9, and be held scoreless in five of those games. On the bright side, the Ducks have regrouped to win their last four in a row heading into Monday’s (11-9) game against Arizona. This is still a very talented team, and one that lost in the 2015 Western Conference Finals to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago. If they hope to come close to replicating or exceeding that feat, Anaheim has to start scoring goals with the regularity they’ve displayed in its most recent four games.