NHL betting season is back in full swing, with team point totals popping up in sportsbooks across the interwebs. A beautiful, beautiful sight.
So before these numbers get steamed with just over a month to go before the NHL season, I present, to you, some initial reads on lines that are now widely available.
Calgary Flames OVER 102.5
In boxing, there's something called a "round-winning style." In hockey, Darryl Sutter has the equivalent.
I'm not going to try to convince myself, like others have, that the Flames didn't suffer a net loss in terms of forward talent after bidding farewell to Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and replacing them with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri in a fascinating offseason. But what I do think is true is that the Flames have become a deeper and more authentic version of themselves — which is the sort of team that can consistently win shifts, periods, and games through consistent and uniform structure. They will be exceedingly difficult to break down defensively with one of the top defensive units and netminders in the league, while still possessing plenty of scoring to take advantage of the margins it can create.
I like the Flames to compete for the division title in a top-heavy segment of the league, and cruise over 102.5 points.
Carolina Hurricanes OVER 102.5 points
It's become a common occurrence this time of year, seeing the Hurricanes undervalued in the futures market.
It's a very, very difficult division, but the Hurricanes (who could be considered Flames East — only for longer) have separated themselves when speaking in terms of consistency in the regular season.
What's best is that Carolina hasn't boxed itself into a corner one bit. To wit, they plucked two established entities for essentially zero cost to upgrade Rod Brind'Amour's reliable systems. Max Pacioretty's injury is a blow, but it might be what's keeping the price down on an accomplished team that will be bolstered by 25-plus minutes of Brent Burns on a nightly basis.
Chicago Blackhawks UNDER 67.5
Since the 2010-11 season, there have been only 16 teams to finish with fewer than 68 points in a full 82-game regular season. Thankfully for the Blackhawks, who are shamelessly chasing Connor Bedard, five of those teams did it last season.
In fact, Chicago was nearly a sixth, finishing with 68 points last season when entering the year with its mind set on being able to compete.
You can be truly awful nowadays, sometimes unintentionally. Fortunately for under bettors, the Blackhawks are choosing the more deliberate path.
Colorado Avalanche OVER 111.5
With better than a .700 winning percentage, the Avalanche are the winningest regular season team over the last three seasons — in addition to being Stanley Cup champions.
We're expecting that standard to not be maintained?
Colorado has performed at a 115.5-point pace over this three-season time period, and shouldn't return as anything less for their title reign.
Edmonton Oilers OVER 102.5
To me, it's hard to imagine the Oilers taking a step back after a turbulent 104-point season in 2021-22.
Not only has the pressure been alleviated in some ways for two of the best players in the world, but Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have the best supporting cast they have had in their careers to this point. Most notably, they finally have a netminder in Jack Campbell.
It might not be seal-tight with Campbell and maybe a middling defensive corps at best, but the Oilers are primed to fill the net this season and pile up the points in the Pacific Division.
New York Rangers OVER 99.5
New York didn't necessarily have a tremendous offseason, but I'm stunned this total is nestled under three digits.
The Rangers might have the single-most influential force in terms of accumulating points with Igor Shesterkin returning from his Vezina Trophy season, and he'll continue working behind one of the more reliable top-four defensive units.
New York is most certainly a postseason team and 100 points might be required to get there in the Metropolitan Division.
Ottawa Senators UNDER 86.5
Unquestionably, the Senators have had one of the best offseasons league-wide. Alex DeBrincat is a star, Cam Talbot is a potential difference-maker in net, and Claude Giroux is a cherry on top.
But the Senators need to improve by 14 points from last season to hit the over on their point total. If Jake Sanderson is IT, perhaps it happens. But this blue line remains unproven, and it could be what prevents the Senators from taking the massive step Vegas has them earmarked for in a tough division.
St. Louis Blues OVER 95.5
I can't understand this one. St. Louis was in some ways raided by the Detroit Red Wings, losing David Perron and Ville Husso in the offseason, but is that worth a 14-point downgrade?
Let's be real. Plus, St. Louis is one of those few teams with the unique ability to plug holes internally.
The Blues were the truest test to the Avalanche last season, and remain a 100-plus-point entity destined to lock up a postseason spot in the Central Division.
Washington Capitals OVER 94.5
We need to stop predicting Washington's demise. They are probably no longer a true Stanley Cup contender with an aging core and limited cap flexibility, but the Capitals remain a force in the regular season.
Connor Brown is one of the more underrated additions of the entire summer, and Darcy Kuemper, while maybe not a truly dominant force, should address the primary concern for a team that hit 100 points last season.
Expect them to survive the postseason cut line, which is historically in the neighbourhood of 95 points.
Canadiens OVER 71.5: A team lacking in many areas will make up for it with an inspired effort on a night-to-night basis.
Panthers UNDER 105.5: To be better in the postseason, the Panthers might have to take a (big) step back in the regular year.
Stars OVER 93.5: Don't let last season fool you. Pete DeBoer goes to the playoffs.
Sabres OVER 77.5: If any team upsets the top four in the Atlantic Division, it might be the Sabres.
Ducks UNDER 79.5: Pat Verbeek wants to tear down before building up. I don't see a four-point improvement from last season for a team that hasn't finished its reset.
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