- BetOnline’s updated Atlantic Division odds list the Boston Bruins (+200) as the favorite
- The Buffalo Sabres’ 9-2-2 record in October pushed their odds all the way up to +275
- The Lightning (+225) and Maple Leafs (+650) are off to sluggish starts to the season
Sitting with a 9-2-2 record at Halloween, the Sabres look poised to snap the league’s longest playoff drought.
Then again, Buffalo was atop the NHL standings at the end of November last season before losing 41 of its next 57 games to miss the postseason for the eighth-straight year.
With the team’s odds to win the division skyrocketing from +3300 in the preseason to +275 today, can the Sabres actually be trusted to win the Atlantic?
Let’s look at the latest odds at BetOnline and place our bets.
NHL ATLANTIC DIVISION ODDS
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+225|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+650|
|Detroit Red Wings||+25000|
The Sabres are playing an up-tempo, offensive brand of hockey under new coach and renaissance man Ralph Krueger. Buffalo has a top-three power-play unit and ranks fifth overall in scoring with 43 goals.
Jack Eichel also had the best October of his young career (7G, 10A) and is on pace for 49 goals and 114 points, which would shatter his career-highs of 28 goals and 82 points.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 29, 2019
If they continue to get strong goaltending from Carter Hutton (6-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA, .943 SV%, and two shutouts), the Sabres will return to the playoffs for the first-time since the 2010-11 season, but don’t bet on them winning the division.
Rebounding nicely from a devastating loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Boston is off to their best 12-game start (9-1-2) since the 1929-30 season.
Currently on a 10-game point streak, David Pastrnak leads the league with 12 goals and 24 points, but he’s not the only Bruin firing on all cylinders.
What an absurd goal from David Pastrnak. pic.twitter.com/JAIXADRj8V
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 22, 2019
The NHL’s reigning No. 1 Star of the Week, Brad Marchand, is on an 11-game point streak and sits fifth in the NHL with 21 points.
Tuukka Rask has also carried over his incredible play from last year’s postseason, leading the league in goals-against-average (1.41) and save percentage (.951) with a 6-0-1 record and two shutouts.
While the Bruins could still use some secondary scoring (their top line has scored 59 percent of the club’s 41 goals), the safe money is on Boston to win the Atlantic.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
It’s always a beautiful thing when Toronto hockey media are in full-blown panic mode, so let me point you towards a recent Steve Simmons column with the headline: “Across the board, coaching, players, management, Leafs should be embarrassed by early-season play.”
Let me remind you that the Leafs currently have a winning record (6-5-3). Still, as Alex Ovechkin recently pointed out, there’s no question that Toronto struggles to play a two-way brand of hockey, ranking second in the NHL in goal-scoring and third-last in goals against.
The Auston Matthews-Justin Bieber Bromance Is Real & Here To Stay – Narcity https://t.co/jX2d52u4qj
— Anna C. Fontana ??⚡️ (@anna_annie12) October 29, 2019
The team is far too talented to miss the playoffs and will improve once captain John Tavares returns from injury. But, considering Toronto has now only won 34 of its past 70 games, Mike Babcock may be on borrowed time.
While the Leafs’ odds to win the division (+650) are certainly enticing, I’d rather place a bet on the similarly-slow-starting Lightning (+225) or the Atlantic-favorites in Boston.
Pick: Bruins (+200)