The NHL season is in the home stretch, and playoff spots are still up for grabs. Earlier, we looked at the Western Conference, where both the Central Division and Pacific Division have three teams vying for the crown, and now we’re going to look at a more-settled Eastern Conference.
NHL Eastern Conference Betting Update: Atlantic Division
Atlantic Division Standings
The Bruins clinched the Atlantic Division last Saturday and clinched the Presidents’ Trophy on Thursday night. They completely ran away with the Atlantic as well as the top team in the entire league.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning are still battling for home-ice advantage in the first round, but it’s looking increasingly like Toronto will earn the number two seed. They have 98 points in 74 games, while the Lightning have four fewer points and two fewer games remaining.
Atlantic Division Odds
With the top three pretty much set, eyes turn to the Florida Panthers. They won the Presidents’ Trophy last season but are in danger of missing the playoffs this year.
I’ll save my pick for this one for later in the article, as the Metro has two teams holding onto those wild card spots.
NHL Eastern Conference Betting Update: Metropolitan Division
Metropolitan Division Standings
The Metro is still a two-horse race, with the Hurricanes at 103 points in 74 games and the Devils at 102 points in 75 games. The Rangers have an outside chance with 98 points in 75 games, but that seems very unlikely.
Metropolitan Division Odds
- Hurricanes -240
- Devils +250
- Rangers +5000
Metropolitan Division Schedule
The Hurricanes have lost three straight, but things get a bit easier the rest of the way. They play the Canadiens, Senators (twice), Predators, Sabres, and Red Wings, along with playoff hopefuls New York and Florida.
New Jersey also has a relatively easy path with games against Chicago, Columbus, Buffalo, and Washington left, but they still have to play Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, and Boston.
The Rangers finish off a back-to-back in Buffalo on Friday night before playing the Capitals, Lightning, Blues, Jackets, Sabres, and Leafs to close out the season.
Metropolitan Division Pick
It isn’t flashy, but I can’t go against my Hurricanes. I’ve been riding them all season, and I can’t see the Devils or Rangers toppling them.
Jaccob Slavin breaks the tie with a rip from distance, putting the Hurricanes up 2-1!#LetsGoCanes pic.twitter.com/ER5tnvmsGA
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 31, 2023
NHL Eastern Conference Betting Update: Wild Card
The Islanders have 87 points in 76 games. The Penguins have 84 points in 75 games. The Panthers have 83 points in 76 games.
Panthers to make the playoffs:
- Yes +160
- No -185
Florida needs to make up a few points in just six games, which might be hard to do. The Panthers will need to win their next few games against Columbus, Buffalo, Ottawa, and Washington before finishing the season with home games against Toronto and Carolina — who might have nothing to play for by then.
Penguins to make the playoffs:
- Yes -260
- No +215
Pittsburgh is gearing up for one last dance with their big three, and the Pens are limping into April with six losses in their last nine games. After hosting the Bruins and Flyers this weekend, they play the Devils, Wild, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Blue Jackets to close out the season. That should be at least four wins.
Islanders to make the playoffs:
- Yes -1100
- No +660
Ilya Sorokin has kept the Islanders in a ton of games and deserves some serious recognition for the Vezina Trophy. However, the Islanders have a challenging path coming up with games in Tampa Bay and Carolina before hosting Tampa Bay next week. They finish out the season with three winnable games against the Flyers, Capitals, and Canadiens, though.
Wild Card Bet
Islanders to miss the playoffs +660
Why not? Let’s have some fun. The Panthers are heating up, and the Penguins have enough talent to hang on. The Isles could spiral a bit if they get blown out by Tampa and Carolina.
Practice day on the Island! pic.twitter.com/YMlCqCOAuE
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 31, 2023
Follow Ryan Gilbert on Twitter (@RGilbertSOP)