Caps, Pens Still Top Metro
The chances of having a Stanley Cup champion emerge from the NHL's Metropolitan Division look good again this year. Of course, having the current Cup holder Pittsburgh residing there is a dead giveaway. But there will be others nipping at them along the way, so NHL betting should be interesting among the Metro group throughout the regular season. The way things look, you could divide the contenders into two groups.
It's time for the Washington Capitals to finally breakthrough and win a Cup ... isn't it? The Caps have grown such a reputation for being dominant in the regular season and imploding during the playoffs, it's hard to make them a post-season favorite. But for regular-season purposes, the Caps should be the favorite in the division again. They did little in the off season, except so far fail to sign defenseman Dmitry Orlov. So we're talking about returning essentially the same team that won more games (56) than anyone in the league last season.
Pittsburgh came on strong last year, obviously when it counted the most. The Pens pretty much stood pat in offseason, losing defenseman Ben Lovejoy and third goalkeeper Jeff Zatkoff to free agency, and picking up D Stuart Percy. They probably won't keep the Cup, but they should make the playoffs.
The New York Gang
The New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils should all be in the playoff picture.
The Rangers lost to the Pens in five post-season games last year, and some considered that an upset at the time. They lost D Keith Yandle to Florida, and got rookie free agent Jimmy Vesey and 20-goal scorer Mika Zibanejad during the offseason. So there's no reason the Range men shouldn't be back.
The Islanders made wholesale changes after beating the Caps and losing to Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Gone are center Frans Nielsen and winger Kyle Okposo, and entering are wingers Andrew Ladd and P.A. Parenteau, who will be the new first-line flanks for John Tavares. We may know how this new chemistry will work out in the first month or so of the season, but it's safe to say the Isles will be there in the post season. If they get on a run, ride them in game betting.
The Devils moved forward with their scoring potential, which they direly needed. They added Taylor Hall, a solid 50-point man. But they surrendered some defensive strength by letting Adam Larsson go. They just missed the playoffs last season, and they should make it this time. They're worth upsets and overs early in the NHL betting season.
Carolina, Columbus and Philadelphia are outsiders looking in. The Hurricanes made improvements but are still young; the Blue Jackets did little to improve a losing team; and the Flyers won't make the incredible run they did to make the post-season last year.
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