2018-19 NHL Betting Point Total Preview: Atlantic Division
The Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division may boast both Washington and Pittsburgh (who have combined to win the last three Stanley Cups), but don’t sleep on the Atlantic. Tampa Bay and Toronto make up a high-powered cream of the crop, while Boston should also be in the mix. Let’s take a look at each team’s projected NHL Betting Win point totals for 2018-19 and make over/under picks.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 107.5
The Lightning racked up 113 points last season for the No. 1 seed in the East before falling to eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington in the conference finals (Tampa Bay got shut out in Game 6 and Game 7). There is no reason to think TB will slow down in 2018-19, as the team still features forward Nikita Kucherov (100 points last year) and center Steven Stamkos (86 points) plus outstanding goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Toronto Maple Leafs: 106.5
Toronto can certainly keep up with Tampa Bay—and with any other club in the league, for that matter—in the scoring department. Former No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews is a lamp-lighting machine and the Maple Leafs have also added all-star center John Tavares. They racked up 105 points in 2017-18 (tied for third in the East) and should only improve this season. Frederik Andersen is good enough in goal to support this kind of offensive juggernaut.
Boston Bruins: 102.5
The Bruins compiled 112 points last season to gain home-ice advantage of Toronto in round one and they delayed what may be a changing of the guard by scraping past the Leafs in seven games. Tampa Bay then disposed of them in five during Eastern Conference semifinal action. This is a team that is not getting any younger; star defenseman Zdeno Chara, for example, is 41 years old. Still, Boston is a playoff contender with Tuukka Rask minding the net.
Florida Panthers: 94.5
Florida has been all over the map of late, going from 91 points in 2014-15 to 103 points in 2015-16 back to 81 points one year after that, and finally up to 96 points this past season. The Panthers did not do much during this summer aside from adding forward Mike Hoffman (56 points with Ottawa in 2017-18). Is that enough to keep Florida in the mid-90s for points and also in the playoff mix? Maybe not, as Roberto Luongo is 35 years old and perhaps declining.
Montreal Canadiens: 80.5
The Canadiens did not come close to being a part of last season’s playoff festivities, as their 71 points tied for the fourth-fewest in the NHL. But is this once-proud franchise, which has not won a postseason series since 2014-15, on the way back up? If the team stays healthy (which it did not in 2017-18), it’s possible. The Habs added added Jonathan Drouin in a trade with Tampa Bay in the middle of last season and landed Max Domi from Arizona this summer.
Buffalo Sabres: 79.5
With 62 points, Buffalo was the worst team in all of hockey in 2017-18. There is no reason why the Sabres should be that bad again. Jack Eichel is an emerging star and he is now playing on a top line with Jeff Skinner instead of disgruntled center Ryan O’Reilly, who got traded to St. Louis. Buffalo selected Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 to shore up the defense, but the team’s blue line and goaltending remain question marks.
Detroit Red Wings: 75.5
Although the Sabres may be a year or two from playoff contention, they are on the way up. Detroit, by contrast, is trending downward. The Red Wings have taken steps back from 100 points in 2014-15 to 93 one season later to 79 the next year and finally to a morbid 73 in 2017-18. Henrik Zetterberg retired this summer, leaving an obvious void in the leadership department. There is some youth at forward, but the defense is relatively old and slow and the goaltending is suspect.
Ottawa Senators: 71.5
Like the Red Wings, the Senators stink. That development came from out of nowhere, too, as they had earned at least 85 points in four consecutive seasons before slumping to 67 in 2017-18. Ottawa endured some feuding within the team last season and should get better simply avoiding controversy. Goalie Craig Anderson is coming off a dreadful campaign but his sample size of success suggests he can get back on track. The Senators will be bad—but better.