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The NHL regular season can be divided into three sections: where teams stand at American Thanksgiving, at the season’s midway point and at the trade deadline. Except for 2019, when the St. Louis Blues famously ascended from last place in January to Stanley Cup Champions, the start of the second half is when we see more buyers and sellers than on eBay. We’ll dissect the intriguing losers’ bracket next week. Here’s a midseason look at the “Top Six” favorites to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2023.
Boston Bruins (+440 to win Stanley Cup)
Stanley Cups come when the stars play like stars and a few other players set career years. When you add goalie Linus Ullmark’s Vezina Trophy season (1.82 GAA, .938 save percentage) to the (finally) healthy mix of offensive (Pastrnak 65 points), defensive (McAvoy 29 assists in 33 games) and overall (Lindholm +33) assets. , the Cup could well be on its way back to Beantown this June.
Colorado Avalanche (+580)
The NHL playoffs are well known as the most arduous physical grind of any major sport, making repeats rare. The short off-season didn’t help the Avs who lost Nathan McKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and others to early-season injuries. McKinnon roared back from a month on the shelf with a highlight coast-to-coast rush and goal against the Oilers. He hasn’t slowed down, with 51 points in 34 games. Newly acquired netminder Alexandar Georgiev (2.64 GAA) has kept most pucks out of the net. Mikko Rantanen (58 pts) is having a career year.
Carolina Hurricanes (+800)
Like the Bruins, the Hurricanes are loaded with top-level talent that combines veterans like Sebastian Aho (40 pts) and Brent Burns (31 pts) with stars-in-the-making, especially 22-year-old Andrei Svechnikov (37 pts .) and 23-year-old Martin Necas, who leads the Canes with 41 points. If rookie sensation Pyotr Kochetkov (2.33 GAA) can sustain his excellence between the pipes, Carolina’s Cup run could go deep.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+900)
Mitch Marner’s quiet Hart Trophy-level season as the league MVP is growing louder. More impressive than his team-record 23-game point streak, Marner has at least one point in 41 of 47 games. Austin Matthews has 24 goals and appears to be healthy again. As importantly, starter Ilya Samsonov is third (2.22) in goals against average.
Vegas Golden Knights (+1000)
Logan Thompson was expected to back up Robin Lehner this season, but Lehner’s injury thrust Thompson into the starter’s role. The rookie has responded with Calder Trophy standards, posting 19 wins and a 2.71 GAA. Head coach Bruce Cassidy is heading to the All-Star Game for leading the Golden Knights to a 29-17-2 record. Top scorer Chandler Stephenson (42 pts) leads a team that continues to win by committee. Jack Eichel (34 pts) has returned to his point-a-game form after being sidelined with a lower-body injury.
New Jersey Devils (+1300)
Everybody expected the Devils to score. Jack Hughes (58 pts) is leading the potent offense with balanced scoring and both Jesper Bratt (46 pts) and Nico Hischier (45 pts) are contributing nicely to a team that has finally tossed the “surprisingly good” tag. The key to New Jersey’s turnaround is new goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who is posting a Top Ten 2.32 goals against average.
*All odds from Bet99 Sportsbook at time of writing & are subject to change.
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