Odds to Win the NHL Metropolitan Division: Despite Cup Win, Capitals Aren’t Favored
After years old playoff exits, the Washington Capitals flipped the script to the NHL last year by finally getting over the hump in the postseason en route to winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Nevertheless, when it comes to odds on which team will acquire the Metropolitan Division in the upcoming campaign, the Capitals aren’t the front-runners.
At BetOnline, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be the +180 favorites, with the Caps (+240), Columbus Blue Jackets (+600), Philadelphia Flyers (+600), Carolina Hurricanes (+1000), New Jersey Devils (+1400), New York Rangers (+1600) and New York Islanders (+1800) rounding out the listing.
Capitals eyeing a fourth consecutive division title
While the Capitals were known prior to last season due to their inability to get the work done when the stakes are highest, they have been a great stake in one aspect: capturing the Metropolitan Division. The Caps, who’ve won the division for three consecutive years, will ice mostly the same roster from the Cup-winning team, but it remains to be seen if the departure of head coach Barry Trotz will have an influence on the group. Former partner trainer Todd Reirden was promoted to the role, which seems by the gamers to have been a positive decision.
Washington re-signed star defenseman John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly. On the lookout for a starting role, goaltender Philipp Grubauer was sent off to Colorado, while unproven netminder Pheonix Copley is poised to be the backup. Pittsburgh’s track record speaks for itself, but using the Capitals famously being an excellent regular-season team, I am not quite certain why they’re +240.
Penguins poised to return to dominant form Fresh off a 100-point effort from the regular season, the Penguins finally watched their reign of beating the Capitals in the playoffs ending in a thrilling seven-game second-round series. The usual talented suspects such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang stay, but Matt Murray struggled in 2017-18, and a .908 save percentage won’t be good enough to guide this team beyond the Capitals from the branch.
Forwards Matt Cullen and Derek Grant and veteran defenseman Jack Johnson were introduced into the fold in the offseason, with Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick comprising the very notable departures for the Penguins. Any team with Crosby and Malkin up front includes a opportunity to compete, yet Pittsburgh’s thickness has come into question, and the crime has been criticized as being too top-heavy. Considering they’ve won two Stanley Cups in the past 3 decades, it’s understandable for oddsmakers to crown them branch favorites, but I am not as confident in them since sportsbooks are.
Best of the rest
The Blue Jackets and Flyers are perceived as the two teams that have a realistic shot at making a Metropolitan run, with another four groups (Carolina, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and Islanders) back of this bunch. Columbus is currently in win-now style due to the looming unrestricted free agency of franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and celebrity winger Artemi Panarin, and the group appears to be in line for a significant regression in case it can’t bring the pair back.
Tabbed by most in the preseason to be a non-factor a year ago, the Flyers made a surprising playoff appearance before bowing out of this activity to the Penguins in the first round. The future is bright at Philly, but I don’t believe this is the year they make a run to the peak of the division.
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