Every game counts in the lockout-shortened NHL season and, believe it or not, we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the campaign.
Here’s a look at three surprise teams that are off to a great start and three squads bettors didn’t expect to be disappointed in early on. Records and statistics are as of prior to Thursday (Feb. 7) games. Futures odds are from the LVH Superbook.
Montreal Canadiens (6-3-0 SU, 3-6 ATS, 4-5 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures - Opened: 40/1, Now: 40/1
The Canadiens weren't expected to do much in the East this season, but they've surprisingly skated to a strong start. Bettors on the puckline aren’t enjoying much success, but moneyline bettors are finding some nice value with the Habs usually slated as small faves or underdogs. Seven of Montreal's first nine games have been at home so the club has to prove to oddsmakers it can win on the road before they consider moving Stanley Cup futures.
Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-0 SU, 7-2 ATS, 5-3-1 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures – Opened: 25/1, Now: 25/1
The Lightning have also benefited from a home-heavy schedule so far (six of their first nine), resulting in a league-best 7-2 record on the puckline. Tampa Bay dropped the first contest of a four-game road swing in Philadelphia Tuesday, which was a rugged affair with some bruising fights. It won’t get any easier for the Lightning with visits to New Jersey, Boston and New York up next.
Anaheim Ducks (7-1-1 SU, 7-2 ATS, 3-6 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures – Opened: 30/1, Now 20/1
The Ducks have earned points in eight of their nine games this season and are winners of four straight. Backup netminder Viktor Fasth is off to a red-hot start, boasting a perfect 4-0 record with a league-best 0.98 GAA. It looks like he's officially stolen the No. 1 spot from Jonas Hiller after his first shutout Wednesday night. The Ducks are also having success finding the back of the net, averaging 3.4 goals per game – the second-best in the league behind Tampa Bay.
Teams not meeting bettors’ expectations
Los Angeles Kings (3-3-2 SU, 2-6 ATS, 4-3-1 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures – Opened: 9/1, Now: 16/1
The Stanley Cup hangover wasn’t supposed to be a factor for the Kings because of the lockout, but so far it's been a grind. Injuries to Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene on the back end haven’t helped the cause and bettors aren’t happy with the team’s results on the puckline. Los Angeles seemed like a steal when it opened at 9/1 value in Stanley Cup futures and now bettors can buy in at 16/1 if they aren’t afraid of the team's slow start.
New York Rangers (4-5-0 SU, 3-6 ATS, 3-6 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures – Opened: 8/1, Now: 9/1
The Rangers dropped three of their first four contests to put them behind the eight ball and have failed to string together more than two consecutive wins to get back on track. New York’s early schedule was jammed with tough divisional games, but some weaker opponents are on the horizon. The Rangers face the Islanders twice and the struggling Capitals in their next five games.
Detroit Red Wings (4-4-1 SU, 4-5 ATS, 5-4 O/U)
Stanley Cup futures – Opened: 12/1, Now: 30/1
The Red Wings have been the model of consistency in the NHL for years, but now they're dealing with the loss of franchise defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Detroit was cruising along slightly above .500 before dropping back-to-back contests to the faltering Flames and Blue Jackets. Injuries to key penalty killers Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson have really hurt the Wings, who have the third-worst PK in the league at 69.8 percent.