Bodog NHL Western Conference Odds & Predictions
The NHL’s Western Conference – A Wide-Open Affair
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are only four months away – Saturday starts a sprint to the finish of the 2013 Regular Season in the NHL. Heading into the shortened campaign, the Vancouver Canucks are favored to be the Western Conference representative in the Stanley Cup with a few other teams lurking ready to make a run at the perennial Western Conference Heavyweight – Vancouver.
Here is a look at the Western Conference odds and what should play out during this shortened 48 game season.
Odds from Bodog
Vancouver Canucks 9/2
The Canucks have a ton to prove in 2013 – that their early exit in the 2012 playoffs was an aberration and that they do have the makeup to get over the hump and finally win their first Cup.
On paper, there is no reason to think that the Canucks will take a step back in 2012 – they have upgraded their already solid blue line, they have locked up their goaltender of the future and finally – they are bound to receive some pieces in return for their biggest distraction – Roberto Luongo.
Vancouver will have Cory Schneider in goal, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler, newcomer Jason Garrison, Keith Ballard, Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts as the top seven on defense and they will have the Sedins, Alex Burrows, David Booth, Mason Ramond, Ryan Kesler (eventually), Chris Higgins, Manny Malhotra, Zack Kassian and Max Lapierre among others up front.
Vancouver is as deep, as physical and as talented as they ever have been – the trick for them will be to exorcize the playoff demons and do what they are built to do.
Vancouver is the favorite for a reason – the West is theirs to lose!
Chicago Blackhawks 13/2
The Blackhawks simply underachieved last season after winning the Cup the year before. They have the talent – names like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are still the envy of most clubs in the NHL.
Health was an issue last season – Toews and Hossa each missed time. But the biggest question mark for this team is between the pipes – Corey Crawford and Ray Emery will once again be relied upon to hold this team in games. To win the West, a goaltender is going to have to steal a game or two – I can’t see this tandem achieving this goal.
Los Angeles Kings 13/2
The defending Champs did absolutely nothing to improve in the offseason but why should they? The Kings ramped up their offense in the playoffs – something that was sadly lacking during the regular season. They still have one of the best keepers in the game although Jonathan Quick is coming off back surgery and some of the most exciting young players in the game – Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams along with a great mix of experience – Simon Gagne, Dustin Penner and Jaret Stoll.
The problem for the Kings this year – they won’t sneak up on anybody! They have become the hunted, not the hunter. Let’s see how they react. After all, no team has been able to repeat since 1998. Too many question marks for my liking!
St. Louis Blues 7/1
The Blues came out of nowhere last year as one of the best defensive teams in the NHL but beyond defense, they don’t offer up a whole ton. They have some nice pieces up front but you need to score goals to win games. The confidence will be there as will the system but the overall talent may be just a tad lacking to see this team come out of the West.
Detroit Red Wings 8/1
It is pretty hard to doubt this organization but they did lose Nick Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and Juri Hudler this offseason – all nearly impossible to replace. They still have some very talented players and this IS the Wings we are talking about. But this team is in transition and is way overdue for a step back!
Edmonton Oilers 9/1
The Oilers are reminiscent of the Pittsburgh Penguins of a few years ago – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov up front doesn’t even seem fair. But this team’s weakness is in the back end – Devan Dubnyk scares nobody and other than rookie Justin Schultz, this team has a serious lack of talent among the defensemen.
Minnesota Wild 9/1
Do Ryan Suter and Zach Parise alone make a bad team good? The Wild need a few more pieces it would seem to make a run at the deeper teams in the West.
San Jose Sharks 11/1
Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns and the young legs of Logan Couture still exist on this team but this team always finds a new way to lose in the playoffs. Age has caught this team as has the realization that they haven't improved their team in the offseason.
Nashville Predators 16/1
Big, strong, fast and playing within one of the most effective systems in the game makes the Preds at threat. Ryan Suter is gone – a key piece. However Pekka Rinne is ready to take the next step - we all saw what a hot goaltender can do for a team in the playoffs (Jonathan Quick!) The Preds are my sleeper team – great value at 16/1.
Anaheim Ducks 20/1
The Ducks have some elite talent – Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and they still have some crafty vets on the team. But they are weak on Defense and their goaltending isn’t nearly the calibre o the rest of the West.
Dallas Stars 20/1
Added Derek Roy, Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr to an average lineup. In other words – they remained average in the offseason. The Stars simply aren’t good enough in all aspects of the game to be considered a serious threat to the faves in the West.
Phoenix Coyotes 22/1
Will this finally be their last year?
Calgary Flames 25/1
Another mediocre season for an aging mediocre team.
Colorado Avalanche 25/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 60/1
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