Let's start off by taking a look at the odds to win the Eastern Conference this season, as we try to point any options worth adding to our NHL picks.
The Rangers were clearly the elite team in Eastern Conference during last year’s regular season, scoring 109 points and earning the top seed in the playoffs. However, they were ousted in the conference finals, losing to the Devils in six games and feel short on their quest to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers should once again be a top team in the Eastern Conference for 2013, but until they prove otherwise, it remains to be seen if they can excel in the playoffs.
Much like the New York Rangers, the Penguins are coming off a solid regular season, scoring 108 points, but made a quick exit out of the playoffs thanks to the Flyers, who beat then in the opening round.
The Penguins will start this season with as much buzz as they did in 2012, but as we know, playing well during the regular season doesn’t guarantee you anything.
Boston Bruins: 6/1
The Bruins come into this season looking to repeat as the best team in the Northwest Division. Last year they tallied 102 points and earned the number two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But, what has seem to become the norm, Boston was forced to a seventh game by the Capitals and ultimately lost, resulting in an upset exit in the first round.
The Flyers seemed poised to make a run at Lord Stanley last season when they knocked the Penguins out of the playoffs in the first round, but then got a heavy dose of reality when the Devils ended their season in the second round.
The Flyers are expected to have a solid front line, but they have some question marks on defense. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would surprise no one if they came away with the Eastern Conference crown.
Buffalo Sabres: 10/1
I’m not sure the Sabres can compete with the first four teams above them just yet, but if they can build team chemistry they made one day soon earn elite status in Eastern Conference.
That said, they should make the playoffs and as we know anything can happen – especially if the team peeks at the right time.
The Rest Of The Conference
The Tampa Bay Lighting are 12/1 favorites to win the Eastern Conference, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils, who have all been pegged as 15/1 favorites.
The Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadians and Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t expect to do much, as is reflected by their 20/1 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
The Winnipeg Jets are listed as 30/1 and do not figure to be a factor at all this season.
The last team on the NHL board to win the Eastern Conference in 2013 is the New York Islanders, who are the longest shot of them all at 50/1 odds.