This week we take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights who are at the front end of a seven-game homestand and the Battle Of New York hits the ice with playoff/trade deadline implications for both the Islanders and Rangers. Covers dangles at the hash and goes bar down to give NHL bettors a breakdown of what to watch for this week on the ice.
Eastern Leader Showdown
Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference face off at Air Canada Centre on Monday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Tampa Bay Lightning. The visitors are the team to beat - not only in the conference, but in the entire NHL, entering the week with +525 odds on Bet365 to claim their second Stanley Cup championship. They've also won two straight games and lead the league with 19 road victories. The Maple Leafs are no slouches themselves, sitting third in the East while riding a three-game winning streak; they're installed at +1,100 to end their 51-year playoff drought, the third-best odds in the conference.
Good Luck, Blackhawks
The Vegas Golden Knights might just find themselves at the top of the Presidents' Trophy race after their latest lengthy homestand. The Golden Knights play the second game of seven straight at T-Mobile Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, looking to build upon their league-best home mark. Vegas comes into the week with +800 odds to win the title in its first season of existence, and will be looking at a season sweep of Chicago following 4-2 and 5-4 triumphs earlier in the campaign. The Blackhawks are mired at the bottom of the Central Division, entering the week with five consecutive losses.
Hey, Remember Us?
That's what the Colorado Avalanche might be asking fans at Pepsi Center as they return to Denver for a rare home encounter with the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. This game marks just the second home contest for the Avalanche since Jan. 20 - and fans shouldn't get too used to having them around, as Colorado then plays four of its next five games away from Denver. The Avs will be happy to return to familiar confines, where they have gone an impressive 19-7-1 so far this season. Montreal, which will be playing its first game since Saturday night, is a dismal 8-16-1 on the road.
New York, New York
It's always heated when the New York Islanders and New York Rangers - but the latest edition of their bitter rivalry takes on added significance, at least for one of the two teams. The Islanders hope to remain alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but will need to shore up a defense and goaltending unit that has surrendered a league-worst 207 goals as of Sunday afternoon. The Rangers are also on the outside looking in, but have all but conceded the season - even writing a note to fans telling them to expect wide-scale roster changes involving some of the team's more popular players.
* Rangers winger Rick Nash says he will accept a trade to a playoff-contending team in Canada as part of his 12-team list. The Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets are presently the best Canadian-based bets, with each coming in at +1,100 on Bet365.
* The Washington Capitals have locked up a valuable depth forward for the long term, signing Lars Eller to a five-year extension worth $17.5 million. Eller has 28 points in 53 games for the Caps, who are -130 favorites to finish atop the Metropolitan Division.
* Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom lashed out Friday, suggesting that he and many of his teammates "aren't good enough to be in the NHL." The Canucks, who responded with a 6-0 win over Dallas on Sunday, are +15,000 to win the Pacific.
* Things are getting even bleaker in Buffalo with word that Sabres superstar Jack Eichel will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered Saturday vs. Boston. The 21-year-old leads the Sabres with 53 points through 55 games.
* New Jersey Devils netminder Corey Schneider is epxected to miss another week with a groin injury that has already held him out for the past eight games. New Jersey is 18-11-6 SU with Schneider in goal but has lost each of his last seven appearances.
* The San Jose Sharks might have to do without bruising forward Joel Ward for the remainder of the season. Ward, who is out with a shoulder injury, has five goals and six assists in 46 games; the Sharks are 6-2-3 SU when he records a point.
Stanley Cup Futures
* The defending Western Conference champs are a threat to repeat - and oddsmakers like their chances of doing so. The Nashville Predators are +400 to represent the West in this year's Stanley Cup, only slightly lower than the Golden Knights (+380).
* The Devils have shown flashes of being a Stanley Cup contender this season, but they'll need to be a lot better -and a lot more consistent - if they hope to return to the final. Bet365 has New Jersey listed at +1,300 to come out of the Eastern Conference.
* The Maple Leafs continue to be one of the more surprising Under plays in recent weeks, going below the total in six of their last eight games. Toronto enters the week at 13-24-4 over the previous 41 games, and 24-28-5 O/U for the year.
* Looking for a solid Over option? Check out the Oilers, who are no closer to securing a Western Conference playoff berth but have been busting totals left and right, going 7-3 O/U in their previous 10 games entering Sunday's encounter with Florida.