odds from sportsbetting.com
Washington Capitals 7/2 The Washington Capitals through patience and dedication, have stuck to their plan and are now being rewarded. The Capitals have clinched the Presidents Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Capitals have also set their own franchise record for most wins in a season with 51. To us, the most impressive statistic besides individual stats from Ovechkin, Backstrom, Knuble, Semin.. and the list goes on and on is that the Capitals have outscored opponents 301-222. A margin of 79 goals.
Prediction: The Capitals will be one of the last two teams standing in the Eastern Conference. This still might not be the year the Caps win the cup.
What scares us about Washington is although they score a ton of goals, they give up a lot as well. 222 goals against is 2nd highest among current playoff teams and Jose Theodore has a 2.85 GAA and a .909 save percentage which ranks 32nd and 23rd in the league. Not impressive stats for any goalie, let alone the starter for the President's Trophy winners.
New Jersey Devils 15/2 Every year we say that this will be the season that the Devils start to fade. Every year we are wrong. Martin Brodeur has been the backbone once again and although he has looked human this season, has played plenty well enough to keep the Devils in the Atlantic Division title hunt. Zach Parise has had another terrific year and the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk gives the Devils offensive prominence they haven't had maybe ever in their history. However, beyond their top 2 forwards, the Devils don't have much depth and their 208 goals are 2nd fewest among current playoff teams.
Prediction: The Devils will struggle in the playoffs. Their defense as a team although solid, lacks a star or leader that can step up in a big spot. Most playoff teams can slow the Devils offense enough where they will have to depend on their secondary scoring to pick up the slack. All in all, Brodeur is not the same goalie he used to be and look for the Devils to be upset in the 2nd round.
Buffalo Sabres 16/1 Once again Lindy Ruff has the Sabres playing well and headed toward the playoffs. The Sabres are 24-10-6 at home and home ice advantage at least in the first round will be a big help. The Sabres are one of the most truly balanced teams from coaching down to goaltending. The Sabres have four 20 goal scorers and 12 players, 11 of them forwards have at least 10 goals. The defense is lead by veterans Montador, Henrik Tallinder and Craig Rivet. Rookie sensation Tyler Myers has serious Calder consideration for his outstanding play this season. You also can't say enough about Ryan Miller. His 38-19-8 record 2.23 GAA and .928 Save Percentage all rank in the top 5 in the NHL. The Sabres only lack a puck moving and scoring defensemen but can overcome that with depth at all positions.
Prediction: With experienced coaching and a very deep and balanced team, the Sabres could be the dark horse in the East as they really don't have any blaring weaknesses. The Sabres can also play tough and can goon it up with anyone. The Sabres will win 2 rounds depending on who they play and how matchups pan out.
Pittsburgh Penguins 9/2 With arguably two of the three top players in the world, it's hard to flat out say the Penguins won't repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Sidney Crosby has figured out how to be a prolific goal scorer. We all knew about the playmaking ability of Crosby, now add his league leading 47 goals to the picture and we now have an all around stud. The Penguins have 11 players with at least 10 goals and their forward depth is impressive. As deep as it is, they still lack a prolific player to go along with Malkin and Crosby. Sergei Gonchar leads the defense and Marc-Andre Fleury holds down the house in goal.
Prediction: The road to the Finals could lead through Pittsburgh. HockeySureShot feels that it is very important for Pittsburgh to win the Atlantic Division. Teams that finish 6th-8th in the Conference are much weaker than teams 1-5 and Pittsburgh could benefit from an easier matchup in the first round.
Ottawa Senators 22/1 The Senators are headed back to the playoffs mainly because of a sick 4 week run before the Olympic Break that saw them win 11 in a row and 14-2 in that 16 game stretch. After a terrible start post Olympic Break, the Senators have turned it on lately and saw their 6 game winning streak snapped after clinching a playoff spot.
Prediction: The Senators will either play the Devils or Penguins unless things dramatically change. We give the Senators a shot against the Devils but not much of one if they face Pittsburgh. Either way, the Senators will not get out of the 2nd round.
Montreal Canadiens 28/1 The Canadiens 10-4-1 surge since the Olympic Break has the Candiens on the verge of making the playoffs again. The Canadiens saw a mass overhaul during last offseason and it took the team some time to gain chemistry. Lately the Canadiens have been a tough opponent and are playing well at the right time. Montreal has a balanced scoring attack with Cammalleri, Plekanec and Gionta all with at least 24 goals. They lack a serious superstar and are not very deep on defense.
Prediction: Unless Montreal wins out and Ottawa free falls, the Canadiens will play Buffalo, NJ or Pittsburgh in the first round and they will be playing golf within 10 days of the start of the playoffs.
Boston Bruins 33/1 The Bruins are clinging to a playoff spot currently and unless a meltdown in their final 4 games, the Bruins should make it. The loss of Marc Savard hurt their enigmatic defense ever further. The Bruins have won on grit, defense and the goaltending of Tuukka Rask.
Tim Thomas has had a disappointing year and without the emergence of Rask, the Bruins would be on the outside looking in.
Prediction: The Bruins are last in the NHL in goals and will have a hard time winning a playoff game, let alone a series. They will be out quick.
Philadelphia Flyers 50/1 The Flyers management has once again not given their team the best chance to win. As previously reported by HockeySureShot, the Flyers are down to their 3rd string goalie Brian Boucher. The Flyers are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and are in danger of missing the playoffs for only the 2nd time in the last 15 years. A number of coaching changes and player changes over the years, the Flyers have yet to make a move to acquire a long term goalie.
Prediction: If the Flyers can hold off the red hot Rangers and Thrashers, they will find themselves wishing they hadn't. Flyers out quick.
New York Rangers 80/1 The Rangers have won 3 straight and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. They are getting hot at the right time and could find themselves in the playoffs for the 3rd straight season. Henrik Lundqvist and Marion Gaborik have earned their paychecks this season but a lack of consistency have kept the Rangers from a better season. The Rangers are a patchwork team with some solid young players but no stars on the horizon.
Prediction: If the Rangers can continue their winning ways, they will catch Philadelphia or Boston or both. However, they will be out very quickly as well.
Atlanta Thrashers 100/1 Although the Thrashers have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs this season, their late season play and ability to stay in the race has to be optimistic to fans. The Thrashers have some good young talent and HockeySureShot has always questions Kovalchuk's commitment to winning. Moving him along might have been a blessing in disguise.
Prediction: This won't be the year for Atlanta but if GM Don Waddell can add a veteran or two to this team during the offseason, a playoff goal for next season isn't an unreasonable goal.
note: The Thrashers have been eliminated
New York Islanders 250/1 The Islanders are still mathematically alive but won't be for long. However, their is finally hope on Long Island as a core of young forwards took a big step as a group this season. If John Tavares can become the superstar he is projected to be, and the Islanders can sure up their defense, Islander fans will be waving rally towels next April at Nassau Coliseum.
Prediction: They will be eliminated by Tuesday night, but a 15 point improvement and meaningful hockey in March gives Garth Snow's rebuilding ideology some serious cred.
note: The Islanders have been eliminated