- BetOnline’s updated Central Division odds list the reigning Cup champs in St. Louis (+200) as slight favorites
- The Avalanche (+250) are still in the race despite losing two of their top forwards to injury
- The Stars (+450) and Jets (+650) are great values after rebounding from sluggish starts
Through a quarter of the season, there have already been some wild swings in play in the NHL’s most-competitive division.
After starting the year 1-7-1, the Dallas Stars, my preseason pick to win the Central, have righted the ship, going 11-1-1 in their past 13 games.
The Jets have also rebounded from a rough start, winning four of their past five games to climb back in the race.
Let’s check out the latest odds at BetOnline and identify where the value lies.
NHL CENTRAL DIVISION ODDS
|St. Louis Blues||+200|
ST. LOUIS BLUES
The Blues have stayed in rhythm despite losing sniper Vladimir Tarasenko to a dislocated shoulder, and sophomore goalie Jordan Binnington is proving last year was no fluke with ten wins, a 2.32 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
One year ago today, the #stlblues promoted Craig Berube to interim head coach and fired Mike Yeo.
What a year it’s been.https://t.co/5Ca1C8YoZD
— KMOX St. Louis News (@kmoxnews) November 19, 2019
After cutting their division odds in half from +400 to +200, the question is whether St. Louis will slow down as the season wears on after playing well into June last year.
Sitting right behind the Blues at +250 is the pre-season favorite in the Central. The Avalanche went 7-0-1 in their first three weeks of play before getting bit hard by the injury bug.
With Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog out indefinitely with lower-body injuries, Colorado has stayed near the top of the division thanks to the strong play of star Nathan MacKinnon — sixth in league scoring with 31 points and record-breaking rookie defenseman Cale Maker.
Cale Makar is scoring at a rate not seen by a rookie defenseman since Brian Leetch 31 years ago (10 years before @Cmakar16 was born).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 19, 2019
Assuming they can ever get healthy, the Avs should be able to catch the Blues, but there’s a not a lot of betting incentive at +250.
THE SLOW-STARTING JETS AND STARS
Winnipeg’s sluggish start could almost be expected given Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor’s contract holdouts, the loss of blueliner Jacob Trouba, and the strange, ongoing Dustin Byfuglien saga.
However, as a guy who recommended the Jets to miss the playoffs at +150, their 7-1-1 record in the month of November is making me nervous.
Buoyed by a Vezina-quality season by Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg is now 10-1-1 in games decided by a single goal, with a league-best 6-0-1 overtime record.
Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist, and Ben Bishop made 32 saves in the Stars’ fourth straight win, 6-1 against the Canucks. https://t.co/EDUZvfWtHF
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) November 20, 2019
Considering the Jets are only four points out of the division lead entering Wednesday’s action, +650 is a certifiable bargain.
That said, Dallas remains my pick to win the Central. Jim Montgomery’s club hasn’t lost a game in regulation in three weeks, boosting their goals-per-game from 1.89 goals to 2.77 and giving up just one goal in eight of 13 games during their 11-1-1 run.
With three quarters of the season still ahead of us, expect this loaded Stars team to keep playing winning hockey the rest of the way.