Stars Aligning After First Half
The Winnipeg Jets topped the St. Louis Blues 4-2 in the final game heading into the NHL All-Star break featuring teams from the Central Division.
The win enabled Winnipeg to pull within a point of first-place Dallas while St. Louis enters the break in sixth place in the division and in 11th place in the Western Conference.
The Central Division does feature two of the top six players in the odds to win the Calder Trophy. Winnipeg forward Cole Perfetti is fifth at +1000 while Minnesota defenseman Caden Addison is priced at +2500 according to the NHL betting lines.
Dallas winger Jason Robertson (+2000) is fourth in the Hart Memorial Trophy odds, Colorado’s Cale Makar (+275) is second in the Norris Trophy pecking order while Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets and Jake Oettinger of the Stars rank second and fourth, respectively, in the odds to win the Vezina Trophy.
This is the perfect time to look at the teams that are overachieving as well as the ones falling short of expectations.
Here’s how the eight teams in the division have fared during the first half of the season. The preseason odds are in parenthesis.
Let’s check the latest NHL news, stats, injury reports, and NHL lines. We’ve got plenty of NHL picks for you to consider.
1. Dallas Stars (28-13-10)
- Odds to win Central Division (+1200) to -120
- Odds to win Western Conference (+1800) to +650
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+4000) to +1600
Jake Oettinger has been brilliant in goal and the Stars have overcome the loss of center Roope Hintz for eight games to lead the division heading into the break.
While the Stars are in a good spot at the top of the Western Conference heading into the break, there’s plenty of room to improve their already solid game.@PNCBank | #TexasHockey
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 28, 2023
Jason Robertson is on pace to score 53 goals while Jamie Benn shows little sign of slowing down.
The lead could be larger than just one point if not for 10 overtime losses. With three straight one-goal losses, this could be a perfect time for the Stars to regroup.
2. Winnipeg Jets (32-19-1)
- Odds to win Central Division (+2500) to +350
- Odds to win Western Conference (+4000) to +1000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+8000) to +3000
Winnipeg has plenty of star power with Mark Schiefele (31 goals), Kyle Connor (a team-leading 59 points), defenseman Josh Morrissey (43 assists), Pierre-Luc Dubois (22 goals) and all-everything goalie Hellebuyck.
The Jets can be a little too reliant on their top line to carry the offense. The recent return of Nikolaj Ehlers, who missed all of November and December, is a huge help.
Winnipeg is just three games over .500 on the road so that needs to be addressed. The Jets have played the most games among Central Division teams so that will be beneficial with fewer games and back-to-backs in the second half of the season.
Winnipeg deserves some sort of prize for being the only NHL team yet to have a game decided by a shootout. The Jets are 7-0-1 in games heading into overtime.
Something of note for those who bet online: Winnipeg is at the bottom of the NHL with 14 of its games finishing over the total. However, the Jets lead the division with a 31-21 mark against the spread.
3. Minnesota Wild (27-17-4)
- Odds to win Central Division (+375) to +600
- Odds to win Western Conference (+800) to +900
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+2000) to +2000
Expectations were pretty high for the Wild coming into the season. While Minnesota is in playoff position, it is only a point from being out of the postseason structure. Minnesota does have some games in hand as the Wild are tied for the fewest games played (48) this season.
Things could be worse if not for the emergence of 24-year-old goalie Filip Gustavsson, who has a 2.26 goals-against average and 2.26 goals-against average. It has been a tough first half both on and off the ice for Marc-Andre Fleury.
Kirill Kaprizov is one of the game’s most electrifying players and he leads the Wild with 27 goals and 32 assists, with 13 goals and 27 points coming on the power play.
4. Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3)
- Odds to win Central Division (-200) to +350
- Odds to win Western Conference (+175) to +300
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+400) to +700
Colorado came into the season as the favorite to repeat as Stanley Cup champions despite the loss of some key players, including Nazem Kadri and goalie Darcy Kuemper.
Gabriel Landeskog has yet to make his season debut, Nathan MacKinnon missed 11 games and Valeri Nichuskin has been sidelined for 28 games. This is not a team people want on the schedule in the second half once the Avalanche start getting more players back.
Alexandar Georgiev has won 20 games and is coming on strong between the pipes for Colorado.
The Avalanche rank 31 out of 32 NHL teams with 17 games finishing under the total set by the Las Vegas odds.
5. Nashville Predators (24-18-6)
- Odds to win Central Division (+1000) to +5000
- Odds to win Western Conference (+2200) to +4000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+5000) to +7500
It is both good news and bad news that defenseman Roman Josi is tied for the team lead with 41 points. The presence of one of the league’s best defensemen gives the Predators the chance to control play. However, more is needed up front as just four forwards are in double digits in goals scored.
Goaltender Juuse Saros struggled a bit in the first half. However, he has been hung out to dry quite a bit as well.
Nashville has been solid at home, but a 10-11-3 record on the road is a bit troubling.
6. St. Louis Blues (23-25-3)
- Odds to win Central Division (+900) to +25000
- Odds to win Western Conference (+1400) to +4000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+2800) to +10000
This has been one of the biggest first-half disappointments. Goalie Jordan Binnington has generated more headlines for his bizarre on-ice behavior and frequent temper tantrums than for his prowess in stopping the puck.
There isn’t enough in the goal-scoring department to overcome a starting goalie allowing 3.27 goals per game.
Jordan Kyrou leads the Blues with 23 goals and 24 points. However, his -25 rating is easily the worst among the NHL’s 20-goal scorers this season. Defenseman Torey Krug (-26) and forwards Brayden Schenn (-27) and Ryan O’Reilly (-28) have some frightening and uncharacteristic plus/minus numbers.
7. Arizona Coyotes (16-28-6)
- Odds to win Central Division (+25000) to N/A
- Odds to win Western Conference (+25000) to +50000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+50000) to +100000
Despite playing in easily the smallest rink in the NHL, Arizona is 10-8-2 at home. However, the Coyotes are 6-20-4 on the road. There will be more time spent at home in the second half of the season.
The question with the Coyotes is which star players will be traded away. There will be no lack of suitors for leading scorer Clayton Keller and star defenseman Jakon Chychrun.
Matias Maccelli, a promising 22-year-old forward, has slowed down after a strong start to the season. However, he is back after missing a month so that is good news for the perpetually rebuilding Coyotes.
7. Chicago Blackhawks (15-29-4)
- Odds to win Central Division (+12500) to N/A
- Odds to win Western Conference (+25000) to +50000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+25000) to +100000
Who would have thought that letting five of the top eight scorers head elsewhere would have resulted in the fewest goals in the NHL?
How much longer will Chicago hold onto future Hall of Famers Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the last remaining holdovers from those Stanley Cup championship teams?
Chicago is tied with Columbus for the fewest points in the NHL. That isn’t bad news considering that a franchise-changing player could land in Chicago if the Blackhawks get the top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and get to select Connor Bedard.