2018 NHL Season Preview & Predictions: Metropolitan Division
The Metropolitan Division was one of the best divisions in hockey last year, with the top five teams all finishing with at least 97 points. The division features the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals, as well as a perennial contender in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Today we’ll be taking a look at each team in the division, and making some NHL Season picks for their season long point totals:
Washington Capitals – 98.5 , OVER
The Capitals obviously won the Stanley Cup last year, and I don’t expect any championship hangover from Alexander Ovechkin’s squad. They’re mostly healthy, and I don’t expect them to fall off much. They finished with 105 points last year, so they’d have to regress significantly for this to go under. I think they’ll keep the magic going for at least one more season.
Pittsburgh Penguins – 103.5 OVER
Last year, the Capitals won the division with the Penguins coming in second. I think that’ll flip this year, and the Penguins will once again be Metropolitan division champs. They finished with 100 points last year, and caught some unlucky breaks which depressed their total. I think they’ll have no trouble improving marginally from last year, and I like the over a lot here, even though I’m not completely sold on goalie Mark Murray.
Philadelphia Flyers – 98.5 UNDER
A lot of people were high on the Flyers last year, but I think their strong 2017 was mostly a fluke. Despite racking up 98 points, they only had a +8 goal differential, by far the worst of any team to have that many points. I think they’ll regress to something more reflective of their goal differential, and won’t come particularly close to 98 points again. I absolutely love the under here.
Columbus Blue Jackets – 97.5 UNDER
Similar story to the Flyers here. The Blue Jackets finished with 97 points last year, a number I think they were quite fortunate to obtain. They also had an uninspiring goal differential, and I would be surprised if they don’t regress at least a little bit. They’ll be without key defenseman Seth Jones and center Brandon Dubinsky for a while, and I like the under here.
New Jersey Devils – 91.5 OVER
Oddsmakers opened this number at 91.5, considerably below the Devils’ 2017 point total of 97. It suggest oddsmakers think the Devils got very lucky last year, but I’m not sure if I agree. Their goal differential wasn’t great, but they were very good both at home and on the road, a good sign for 2018. I’m a big fan of their young core including 19-year-old Nico Hischier, and think they have a chance to be even better than last year.
Carolina Hurricanes – 84.5 OVER
The Hurricanes were a middling team in every sense of the word last year, finishing with 83 points, but I think they should improve marginally this year. Goalie Scott Darling’s injury is a bit concerning, but he should be back before too long and the team should be able to manage without him. I love 21-year-old center Sebastian Aho, and think he could lead the Hurricanes to new heights this year.
New York Islanders – 83.5 OVER
The Islanders were a big disappointment last year, but I think they’ll rebound a bit. They only need to improve by four points over last year for this ticket to cash, and I think they should do that. They suffered some inopportune injuries last year, and will hopefully have better luck on their side this year. They should be far better than their New York Rivals, and manage to stay out of the basement of their division.
New York Rangers 75.5 UNDER
I think the Rangers very well may be the worst team in Hockey in 2018. Perhaps that’s a tad hyperbolic, but I really think there’s a chance they finish the season with the least points. Their total is very low, but I think it should be even lower. The Rangers fired their coach in April, and I don’t think taking the over with a first-year head coach in the NHL’s biggest media market is a good idea. They had the worst goal differential in the division last year, and I think they’ll be stuck in a rebuild for at least this next year.