NHL Recap: Atlantic Division

NHL Atlantic Division Preview

The National Hockey League has stated that they do expect the season to resume at some point this summer. The regular season should be over and if the season does resume, it will most likely be the playoffs that we will see. Over the next week or so I will be recapping each division in the NHL.

Boston Bruins

Straight-Up Record: 44-20
Points: 100
O/U: 28-37-5
Stanley Cup Odds: 11/2 (via Vegas Insider)

The Boston Bruins have been the best team in the Atlantic Division all season long and they entered the “Pause” leading the division by eight points over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Should the season start up again, the Bruins would have the top seed in the Eastern Conference and their 100 points are the most in the league. It looks as if the Bruins will win the President’s Cup trophy this year.

Back in December, the Bruins embarked on a stretch that saw them go 8-14 but since then, Boston has been scorching hot as they have won 16 of their last 20 games. They went into the pause off of a 2-0 home win over the Flyers and have allowed 19 total goals in their last 16 wins, compared to giving up 19 total goals in their last three losses. That is an outrageous stat. That means that Boston has allowed just 1.19 gpg in their last 16 wins. Boston finished the year tops in the league in goals allowed at 2.39 gpg, 3rd in penalty kill (84.2%) and 8th in fewest shots allowed at 30.0 spg.

Let’s start there, with the goaltending. Tuukka Rask is the main goalie for the Bruins and he has had a strong season, going 26-14 with a 2.12 GAA on the year while posting five shutouts. One of those shutouts came in the 2-0 blanking of the Flyers just before the “Pause”. Rask stopped all 36 shots he faced in the game and now has a save percentage of .929. In the offseason, the Bruins brought in Jaroslav Halak from the Islanders to back up Rask and he has been very solid for the team. Halak was 18-12 with a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage on the year. He contributed three shutouts as well. Both goalies are strong and would give the Bruins a great one-two punch in the crease during the postseason.

The Bruins aren’t all about their play in the crease as they rank 9th in the league in scoring at 3.24 gpg. Boston is also 2nd in the league in powerplay conversions at 25.2% and 10th in shots taken at 32.1 spg. Despite that, we do note that the Bruins have not scored more than four goals in a game over their last 17 games and they have averaged just 2.88 gpg over that stretch. The Bruins will hope that their goaltending will hold up once the postseason starts. Leading the offense in points has been David Pastrnak with 97 while Brad Marchand is 2nd with 85 and Patrice Bergeron is 3rd with 56. Pastrnak leads the team in goals with 48 while Bergeron is 2nd with 31 and Marchand is 3rd with 28. All three have played a big role in the success of the Bruins this year and they would all need to have a good postseason for the Bruins to win the cup.

Gambling Outlook: The Bruins will be one of the favorites to win it all once/ if the postseason gets played out. They are tops in the league in goals allowed and having great play in the crease is a huge plus in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Just ask the St Louis Blues, who won it all last year, despite being 15th in the league in scoring. They were 5th in goals allowed. The Bruins have struggled on offense of late but they are still 16-4 in their last 20 games and have allowed just 1.18 gpg in their last 16 wins. Should the playoffs get underway, the Bruins are clearly the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Straight-Up Record:44-27
Points: 92
O/U: 37-29-4
Stanley Cup Odds: 13/2(via Vegas Insider)

Last year the Tampa Bay Lightning had the most points in the league with 128 and they were 21 points ahead of both the Bruins and Flames, who were 2nd in the league with 128. Despite the amazing season, they were shocked in the first round of the playoffs but 8th seeded Columbus, who swept the Bolts in four games. Tampa Bay had been a mediocre team for much of the year before putting together a 23-3 stretch from December 23rd to February 17. At that point, the Bolts had really closed the gap on the Bruins but they did not go into the pause playing well as Tampa had lost seven of their last 10 games. They are currently eight points out of first in the Atlantic Division and will be hoping that the time off helps them.

The strength of the Bolts is an offense that comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.47 gpg while also ranking 5th in powerplay conversions at 23.2% and 19th in shots taken at 31.1 spg. The offense has been a bit down of late as the Bolts averaged just 3.07 gpg over their last 15 games after hanging up 3.81 gpg in their previous 21 games. The Tampa offense against Boston’s goaltending would be a fun battle to watch in the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov leads the team in points with 85 while Steven Stamkos is 2nd with 66 and Brayden Point is 3rd with 64. Kucherov led the team in goals with 33 while Stamkos was 2nd with 29 and Alex Killorn is 3rd with 26. We do note that Stamkos has solid numbers overall, despite missing 13 games this year.

Tampa Bay isn’t all about their offense as they enter this game ranked 8th in the league in goals allowed at 2.77 gpg while also ranking 14th in penalty kill at 81.4 and 12th in shots allowed at 30.9. The Bolts did not have great numbers in the crease for the early part of the season and they have allowed 3.5 gpg over their last 10 games but Tampa had allowed just 1.92 gpg in their previous 26 games. If they have that kind of goaltending in the playoffs, they could be unstoppable. Andrei Vasilevsky went 35-17 with a 2.56 GAA and a .917 save percentage this year while posting three shutouts. Backing him up has been Curtis McElhinney, who went 8-10 with a 2.89 GAA and a .906 save percentage while posting one shutout. Both do have playoff experience.

Gambling Outlook: Tampa Bay did not play well right before the “pause” but prior to that they had gone 23-3 in their previous 26 games and the Bolts allowed just 1.92 gpg over that stretch. If their goaltending can get back on track then this team, which has the best offense in the league, will be tough to stop. Tampa will also be playing with a chip on their shoulders after a shocking exit last year in the first round. They may not be the best team in the East, but they are not far off and Tampa Bay does have the offense and the goaltending to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Straight-Up Record: 36-34
Points: 81
Stanley Cup Odds: 16/1 (via Vegas Insider)

The Toronto Maple Leafs were expected to be the team to beat n the Atlantic Division last year and they finished 3rd in the division while bowing out to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. It has not been much better for the Leafs this year as they are just two games above .500 and in 3rd place in the Atlantic. They were again expected to challenge for the Atlantic Division title but they went into the break 19 points out of first. Once the playoffs start, the Maple Leafs would be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and it would be the 4th year in a row that they have made the postseason. In each of the last three years, the Leafs have been knocked out in the first round.

Much like the Lightning, the Leafs have been led by an offense that ranks 3rd in the league in scoring at 3.39 gpg while also ranking 6th in powerplay conversions at 23.1% and 6th in shots taken at 32.9 spg. The offense did not play well down the stretch, though, as Toronto scored just five total goals in their last four games and they averaged just 2.68 gpg over their last 19 games. Toronto was 9-10 in those games. They will clearly need to get their offense back on track if they hope to make a run at the Stanley Cup Title, should the postseason start. Auston Matthews has been the offensive catalyst for the Leafs the last few years and this year is no exception as he leads the team in points with 80 and goals with 47. Second on the team in points is Mitchell Marner with 67 while John Tavares is 3rd with 60. William Nylander is 2nd in goals with 31 while Tavares is 3rd with 26.

Toronto enters this game ranked 26th in the league in goals allowed at 3.17 gpg while also ranking 21st in penalty kill at 77.7% and 19th in shots allowed at 31.9 spg. Frederik Andersen has not played badly as he has gone 29-20 with a 2.85 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 52 games played thus far. A problem was when Michael Hutchinson was the backup as he went 4-9 with a 3.66 GAA in 15 games before being shipped off to Colorado. Toronto then brought in Jack Campbell from the Kings and while he is just 3-3 in 6 games here, he has a 2.63 GAA in those games. Toronto does not have great numbers overall but they now have a duo that can play well in the crease and that could help them make a deep run in the postseason. Toronto has allowed just 2.73 gpg over their last 15 games.

Gambling Outlook: The Maple Leafs have been a mediocre team all year but I feel they have a chance to put a real scare into their first-round opponent. Toronto would be playing Tampa Bay in the first round but the Lightning did not look good right before the break. The Leafs have a strong offense and their goaltending has been much better down the stretch. That is a good combination but It is still hard to see them getting past the first round, especially since the Leafs have been knocked out in the first round in each of the last three years.

Florida Panthers

Straight-Up Record:35-34
Points: 78
Stanley Cup Odds: 70/1(via Vegas Insider)

The Florida Panthers finished a game over .500 but unless the season resumes with regular-season games, they will be missing the postseason for the 4th year in a row and the 16th season in their last 18. Florida did have a six-game winning streak going from January 9th to the 21st to play their way into the top eight in the eastern conference. Since then, it has been mostly downhill as the Panthers have lost 13 of their last 20 games. That stretch of games knocked them to three points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Better luck next year Florida.

The Panthers had a solid offense this year as they ranked 6th in the league in scoring at 3.30 gpg while also ranking 10th in powerplay conversions at 21.3% and 7th in shots taken at 32.7 spg. The offense did sputter down the stretch as the Panthers averaged just 2.33 gpg over their last 18 games. That will not cut it, especially in an offensive-minded league such as the NHL is right now. Jonathan Huberdeau led the team in scoring with 78 points while Aleksander Barkov was 2nd with 62 and Mike Hoffman was 3rd with 59. Leading the team in goals was Hoffman with 29 while Evgenii Dadonov was 2nd with 25 and Huberdeau was 3rd with 23. The offensive struggles they had down the stretch were the reason they will be sitting home if the postseason starts.

The Panthers did struggle at the other end of the ice all year as they are ranked 29th in goals allowed, giving up 3.25 gpg while also ranking 20th in penalty kill at 78.5% and 22nd in shots allowed at 32.3 spg. The Panthers played better of late, allowing just nine goals in their last five games but still, they went 2-3 in those games thanks to the struggles of their offense. Has not had a great season, going 23-26 with a 3.23 GAA and a .900 GAA on the year. Last year for the Blue Jackets he was 37-25 with a 2.58 GAA while leading the league in shutouts with nine. He has just one shutout this year. Bobrovsky did not bring his talents from Columbus to Florida. Chris Driedger played in the last three games and allowed four total goals in those games. He was 7-3 with a 2.05 GAA on the year. It’s too bad that Florida didn’t start him much more this year.

Gambling Outlook: I do not expect any of the regular season games to be played should the NHL start their season back up but just in case they do, here is my take on the Panthers. If they continue to play Driedger in the crease then they have a chance of making up the four points needed to get into the top eight in the East. If Bobrovsky is in there a lot then the Panthers will need their sputtering offense to find it’s groove once again. That offense has been very bad of late and if it doesn’t show up, then there is no way the Cats make the postseason.

Montreal Canadiens

Straight-Up Record: 31-40
O/U: 34-35-2
Stanley Cup Odds: 2000/1 (via Vegas Insider)

The Montreal Canadiens had a stretch that saw them head to the postseason in 10 out of 13 years but they will now be missing the postseason for the 3rd year in a row. Even if the season were to restart with regular-season games, the Habs are 10 points out of the 8th an final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and they would have just 11 games to go. There is no way this team would make up the ground needed, especially since they have been struggling, going 4-10 over their last 14 games. The Canadiens will be looking to re-group in the offseason.

The offense has been up-and-down this year and that was evidenced in their last five games as the Habs scored just three goals in their last three games, compared to 10 goals in their previous two games. It has been that kind of inconsistency that will be keeping them from postseason play this year. Tomas Tatar is in his 2nd year with the team and he leads the Habs with 68 points while 2nd in points is Phillip Danault with 47 and 3rd is Max Domi with 44. Tatar and Brendan Gallagher lead the team in goals with 22 while Domi is next with 17. Overall, the Canadiens rank 19th in the league in scoring at 2.93 gpg while ranking 22nd in powerplay conversions at 17.7% and 2nd in shots taken at 34.1 spg.

The play in the crease has been below average overall as the Habs are 19th in the league in goals allowed, giving up 3.10 gpg but it has hardly been Carey Price’s fault. Yes, he has gone 27-31 on the year but with a decent 2.79 GAA and he has posted four shutouts. Keith Kinkaid started out as the backup to Price and he was 1-4 with a 4.24 GAA. He is not with the main roster right now and backing up Price right now is Charlie Lindgren, who has gone 2-4 with a 3.33 GAA on the year. This is Carey Price’s show just as it has been for most of his career, but at some point, he will need more help from his offense. We do note that the Habs have allowed four goals or more in nine of their last 13 games. Montreal ranks 19th in the league in penalty kill at 78.7% and 13th in shots allowed at 31.1 spg.

Gambling Outlook: Even if the regular-season is restarted before the playoffs, the Canadiens would not have a shot at the NHL’s 2nd season. The offense continues to sputter and Carey Price can’t do it alone. He needs more help from the offense. The Habs are 10 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings and will be missing the postseason for the 3rd year in a row.

Buffalo Sabres

Straight-Up Record:30-39
Points: 68
Stanley Cup Odds: 5000/1 (via Vegas Insider)

The long playoff drought for the Buffalo Sabres will continue as they have now missed the postseason in each of their last eight seasons. Should the regular season be restarted before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Sabres are 13 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and they would have just 13 games to go. As I stated, buffalo will be missing the postseason this year and that is a shame as this is a team that was expected to take a major step forward this year.

As in the last few years, the problem for the Sabres has been their offense which ranks 21st in the league in scoring, putting up just 2.80 gpg. They also rank 20th in powerplay conversions at 18.9% and 30th in shots taken at 29.3 spg. The offense needs to find more scorers in the offseason or Buffalo could be in for a long season next year. The offense had major issues down the stretch as they scored a total of 14 goals in their final eight games, after notching 18 goals in their previous four games. Jack Eichel has had a strong season as he leads the team in points with 78 and goals with 36. Second in points is Sam Reinhart with 50 and he is 2nd in goals with 22. Third in points is Victor Olofsson with 42 and he is 3rd in goals with 20. Buffalo could use another scorer like Eichel and they will be looking for that player in the offseason.

The Sabres have not been great at the other end of the ice as they come in ranked 22nd in the league in goals allowed at 3.12 gpg while also ranking 30th in penalty kill at 74.6% and 14th in shots allowed at 31.1 spg. With a struggling offense, it is imperative that a team has solid goaltending to make up the difference and the Sabres did not have that. The goaltending has been split pretty evenly this year as Linus Ullmark has [played in 34 games while Carter Hutton has been in 31. Ullmark has had the much better showing this year, going 17-17 with a 2.69 GAA and a .915 save percentage while Hutton went 12-18 with a 3.18 GAA. With a bit more from the offense and a bit more of having Ullmark in the crease, the Sabres could have been much more of a contender for a playoff spot.

Gambling Outlook: Should the NHL resume with regular-season games, the Buffalo Sabres are not a team to watch at all. They were struggling mightily to score right before the “Pause” and are pretty much out of the race for a playoff spot. Buffalo has very little to play for at this point. One thing to watch is when they have Linus Ullmark in there as that should be an opportunity to take some unders. The Sabres can’t score and he has been solid in the crease.

Ottawa Senators

Straight-Up Record: 25-46
Points: 62
Stanley Cup Odds: NA (via Vegas Insider)

It is hard to believe that back in the 2016/17 season the Ottawa Senators posted 98 points and were in the Eastern Conference Finals. Since then, the Sens have been one of the worst teams in the league, posting 67, 64 and 62 points in each of the last three years, respectively. Ottawa has the 2nd fewest points in the league this year and the only good news is that they are still 23 points ahead of the Red Wings for fewest points in the league. Ottawa is currently 19 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and will be regrouping once again in the offseason.

Ottawa didn’t play horrible down the stretch as they have won four of their last seven games but still, it has not been a good year for them overall. The Sens have just 25 wins on the year and only once did they win more than two games in a row and in that instance, it was a three-game winning streak. The offense has been an issue for Ottawa as they are ranked 25th in the league in scoring at 2.68 gpg while also ranking 31sy in powerplay conversions at 14.2% and 24th in shots taken at 30.6 spg. The offense has been a bit worse of late as the sens have averaged just 2.45 gpg over their last 11 games. Leading the team in points has been Brady Tkachuk with 44 while Connor Brown is 2nd with 43 and Anthony Duclair is 3rd with 40. Leading the team in goals has been Duclair with 23, while Tkachuk is 2nd with 20 and Brown is 3rd with 16.

The goaltending has not been good at all and has been split between three goalies this year. Craig Anderson is the main starter and he has gone 11-19 with a 3.25 GAA and a .902 save percentage on the year. Next is Marcus Hogberg, who has gone a miserable 5-16 with a 3.12 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Rounding out the trio is Anders Nilsson, who went 9-11 with a 3.18 GAA and a .908 save percentage on the year. He is currently listed as out indefinitely with a concussion. The Sens have not had solid goaltending the last few years and it is something they need to address in the offseason. Ottawa ranks 30th in goals allowed at 3.35 gpg, 28th in penalty kill at 76.1% and 29th in shots allowed at 33.6 spg.

Gambling Outlook: There is no real gambling outlook for the Sens should the season resume with regular-season games. The Sens have been struggling to score and they have some of the worst goaltenders in the league at the moment. Ottawa is a bad team and we also note that they are the only team in the league that has players who have tested positive for COVID-19. Neither player’s name has been released as of yet. The Sens will again be regrouping.

Detroit Red Wings

Straight-Up Record: 17-54
Points: 39

Stanley Cup Odds: 2000/1(via Vegas Insider)

The Detroit Red Wings had a stretch of 25 seasons in a row that they made the playoffs and they had won the Stanley Cup Title four times over that stretch. That was an amazing stretch for them but they have been the worst team in the league this year and will be missing the postseason for the 4th year in a row. It isn’t even close that the Wings are the worst team in the league as they have just 39 points and that is 23 points fewer than the Senators, who are the next closest team with 62.

Detroit has just 17 wins on the year and they are just 5-29 on the road. Just like the Sens, the Red Wings have just one three-game winning streak on the year and they have gon just 3-11 over their last 14 games. The offense has been the worst in the league all year and the Red Wings have averaged just 1.68 gpg over their last 19 games and Detroit has scored one goal or less in 10 of those games. That is truly pathetic and Detroit must seek out more offense in the offseason. Dylan Larkin leads the team in points with 53 while Tyler Bertuzzi is 2nd with 48 and Anthony Mantha is 3rd with 38. Leading the team in goals is Bertuzzi with 21 while Larkin is 2nd with 19 and Mantha is 3rd with 16. Detroit ranks 31st in scoring at 2.00 gpg, 29th in powerplay conversions at 14.9% and 31st in shots taken at 27.1 spg.

As bad as the offense has been this year, their play in the crease has been just as bad. The Red Wings are ranked 31st in the league in goals allowed at 3.73 gpg, 31st in penalty kill at 74.3% and 27th in shots allowed at 32.8 spg. Jimmy Howard has been a steady influence in the crease for the Red Wings for much of his career but he is having his worst season ever, and it’s not even close. Howard has gone just 2-25 with a 4.20 GAA and a .882 save percentage on the year. Despite those numbers, he has a 2.62 GAA in his career and will be looking to bounce back next year. Howard has been the backup to Jonathan Bernier, who has gone 15-25 with a 2.95 GAA and a .907 save percentage on the year. Howard may very well be with a new team next year.

Gambling Outlook: Just like the Senators, there is no real gambling outlook for the Red Wings. They are the worst team in the league and will be heavy dogs in any games that they may play after the break is over. Detroit has no offense and their play in the crease has been bad as well. It will not be pretty for them if the regular season resumes.