We’re almost into November in the 2022-23 NHL season and most teams have played around 8-10 games. It’s still early, but we’ve gotten a good enough look at the landscape of the League and how the standings may shake out. Let’s look at the odds to win the Stanley Cup and some early risers and fallers.
Stanley Cup odds update: Oct. 31
Boston Bruins (+2500 to +900)
The Bruins have looked like the best team in the NHL through two weeks and change. They enter Monday 8-1-0 on the season and comfortably in first place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins rank first in goals per game (4.22) and second in goals allowed per game (2.33). On special teams, Boston’s usually strong power play is middle of the pack (23.5%) while the penalty kill ranks second at 93.9%.
The Bruins are definitely benefitting from a soft schedule to start the season. Five of their eight wins are against opponents at .500 or below. Their lone loss is to the Ottawa Senators, though wins over the Capitals, Panthers and Stars are quality. Boston should improve on its power play and that’s the scary part. Plus, LW Brad Marchand has only been back for one game. Once he’s up to speed, the power play should rise.
This feels a lot like a product of the Bruins’ chemistry. Boston has arguably the best continuity in its lineup the past decade or so. We’ve seen the Bruins win the Presidents’ Trophy and go into the postseason just to lose in the first or second round. At this point it doesn’t look like the Bruins are going away. Are they a good Stanley Cup bet? Two weeks ago, yes. Right now, maybe we see if Boston drops a bit. The Bruins’ schedule to start November is tougher with games against the Penguins, Rangers, Maple Leafs, Blues and Flames.
Calgary Flames (+1500 to +800)
Speaking of the Flames, they look a lot like the Bruins out West. Calgary is top-10 in goals for and goals against this season. Same goes for the power play and penalty kill, so the Flames have been super consistent and well-rounded through the first seven games (5-2-0). Jacob Markstrom looks like he’ll be in the Vezina convo again this season after finishing second in voting last season. Nazem Kadri was a great addition in free agency to quell the blow of losing Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. Kadri leads the team in points with nine (four goals, five assists).
The Flames have played a very tough schedule early on and have quality wins over mostly contending teams. That includes the Oilers, Avalanche, Hurricanes, Penguins and Golden Knights, who are first in the Pacific at 16 points. Plus, no one has really gotten it going on offense.
LW Jonathan Huberdeau is off to a slow start with his new team with one goal and five points in seven games. Tyler Toffoli and Elias Lindholm have combined for eight points in seven games. Andrew Mangiapane has four points. So there’s definitely room for improvement. We should see the Flames start to beat up on weaker opponents while remaining competitive on most nights.
Now still feels like an OK time to bet on the Flames to win the Cup. They should stay consistent and really shouldn’t go much higher than +400 or lower than +1200 for most of the season if this continues.
Maple Leafs (+700 to +1000)
This seems generous from the book to have the Leafs at +1000. The Maple Leafs have some serious issues throughout and have a ton of pressure on them from the media. Toronto’s expectations are always high and the team has failed to live up to those expectations for the past 15 seasons or so. It’s already an uphill battle for the Leafs and we aren’t even into November.
Let’s look at the team. At 4-4-2, the Leafs aren’t really that far behind in the standings (no team is really). The problem is the Leafs are losing to teams they shouldn’t be losing to. The Ducks, Kings and Sharks. The Coyotes, the Canadiens, none of these teams are expected to compete and most, if not all, won’t be in the postseason. Toronto appears to play down to its competition, which we’ve seen before.
From a personnel perspective, the forwards should figure it out. Reigning MVP Auston Matthews has just three goals in 10 games on 6.3% shooting. That’ll fix itself. Once Matthews starts burying shots, the goals should come quickly, which appears to be the difference in some of these losses during the four-game skid.
The second line with John Tavares and William Nylander has been solid with the two tied for the team lead in points with 10 each. Depth at forward and scoring could become an issue, but Tavares, Nylander, Matthews and Mitch Marner should be able to carry things there. The defense has problems, particularly on the penalty kill, where the Leafs rank 25th.
For now, it looks like Ilya Samsonov can be a No. 1 goaltender all season. Depth at goalie could become a problem if another injury goes down to Samsonov or backup Erik Kallgren, who hasn’t been good anyway. Matt Murray is hard to rely on given his injury history. If he can come back and provide some stability as a backup to Samsonov, that’s all the Leafs can ask for. Expect some moves to be made before now and the deadline.
So should we be betting on the Leafs at this point? There’s a chance they keep losing games and fall further down, in which case you’d get some more value. It’s hard to envision Toronto dropping lower than +1200 or +1400. If things get worse, there’s a chance the Leafs miss the playoffs given how competitive the NHL is right now. You’d think the Bruins and Panthers are definitely among the top-3 in the Atlantic. The rest of the division will fight for the third spot. So with all that, plus the Leafs roster and history in the playoffs, it’s tough to make a case for them right now.
The New Jersey Devils entered the season +5500 to win the Cup. Now they’re up to +3500. It’s hard to view the Devils as contenders but they’ve played like the best team in the NHL through nine games. The advanced stats love New Jersey. The Devils are up there with the Hurricanes in terms of SAT% at 5v5. Plus, the Devils are top-10 in Goals For Percentage. New Jersey is averaging nearly 40 shots on goal per game and their Net Shots per game is first at 17.7, which is almost 7.0 higher than the Panthers (10.9) in second. Really, the issue with the Devils from last season was goaltending, which has been great in comparison this season with Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanecek. If that continues and the Devils keep up this pace of play, they’ll be around in April and could be a tough opponent in the first round for a Cup contender. It doesn’t appear the Devils odds are going to drop at this point.
The Vegas Golden Knights (+2500 to +1600) should probably be up there above the Leafs section. Vegas is tied with the Bruins for the most points in the NHL at 16. Oddly enough with the Bruins’ former head coach Bruce Cassidy. Vegas appears poised to get back to the playoffs after missing for the first time in franchise history in 2021-22. The Knights have the top defensive team in the League and are super deep and balanced throughout the roster. Vegas will be around come postseason time and really the only question mark is whether or not goaltenders Logan Thompson and Adin Hill can keep this up.
The Philadelphia Flyers entered the season at +20000 to win the Cup and are up to +15000. It feels weird the Flyers haven’t jumped up higher despite being 5-2-1 with 11 points and seemingly in it in the Metro Division. It’s hard to see the Flyers as making the playoffs let alone contenders. The thing is Carter Hart has been great. John Tortorella, for what it’s worth, has won before. Philly should also get James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier back this season, which will provide forward depth, scoring and leadership.