If there is one team that would rather keep on playing rather than stopping for the All-Star break, it would be the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina has the longest active winning streak in the NHL and the seven wins in a row includes one over the NHL-leading Boston Bruins and a three-goal,.third-period comeback against Los Angeles.
The Hurricanes lead the division by eight points and cut Boston’s lead in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy to seven points. No team in the division has been a bigger surprise than the New Jersey Devils as they led the division for much of the first half and are in good position to reach the postseason for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
If the playoffs started today, the Metropolitan Division would lead the way with five playoff teams.
Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils is tied for fifth in the Hart Memorial Trophy odds according to the NHL betting lines. Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers are among the top candidates to win the Vezina Trophy.
New Jersey hasn’t recorded a 100-point season in more than 10 years. However, according to the NHL odds, the Devils are priced at -120 to go over 105½ points.
It should be quite the second half with Carolina and New Jersey battling it out for the division lead with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders fighting it out for playoff spots.
How the eight teams in the division have fared during the first half of the season? The preseason odds are in parenthesis.
Also check on these NHL betting lines.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (34-9-8)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+185) to -350
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+550) to +500
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+1200) to +900
Carolina has 17 wins both at home and on the road and went 9-0-1 over the last 10 games. There have been 15 overtime games in the first half of the season with the Hurricanes winning seven of them.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 2, 2023
Martin Necas already has established career-highs with 21 goals and 47 points. Even with Sebastian Aho missing seven games, the Hurricanes look like Stanley Cup contenders.
The addition of veteran defenseman Brent Burns has been one of the best under-the-radar movies of the offseason as he already has 10 goals with a +7 defensive rating while playing more than 23 minutes per game.
All three Carolina goalies have goals-against averages under 2.50 and that speaks to the defensive structure employed by the Hurricanes. Carolina is just 22-29 against the Las Vegas odds.
2. New Jersey Devils (32-13-4)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+1600) to +300
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+3300) to +750
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+7500) to +1600
Hughes is looking like the franchise-changing player he was expected to be when he was the No. 1 overall selection. Hughes is on pace for 55 goals and 106 points. He has plenty of help with seven players already having at least 10 goals.
The Devils built the defense by acquiring veterans Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Graves and John Marino over the last couple of years and those moves are paying off as the Devils lead the division with a +40 goal differential. Vitek Vanecek, who is 21-5-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average, has been a revelation in goal.
The Devils’ maturity is best illustrated by an NHL-best 19 road wins.
3. New York Rangers (27-14-8)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+300) to +1400
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+1000) to +900
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+2000) to +1800
The Rangers are starting to put it together and figure to be a dangerous team in the second half of the season.
Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each have another 20-goal season to their credit while the acquisition of Vincent Trocheck has been huge.
K’Andre Miller is enjoying his best season on the blue line to go with Fox, one of the best puck-moving defenseman in the league. With 10 regulars 25 or younger, the best could be yet to come with the Rangers.
4. Washington Capitals (27-20-6)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+750) to +6600
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+1800) to +2500
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+3500) to +5000
Alexander Ovechkin continues to light the lamp as he makes his case as perhaps the best goal scorer in NHL history. The key for Washington is getting healthy. Defenseman John Carlson has missed 22 games, fellow blue-liner Dmitry Orlov has been out of 15 contests while key forwards T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom have combined to play 53 out of a possible 159 games.
Defenseman Erik Gustafsson has been a key offseason acquisition, especially when Carlson went out of the lineup. Goalie Darcy Kuemper has been like this Washington team, with tremendous highs and stunning lows in the first half.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-16-9)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+280) to +2800
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+850) to +1200
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+2000) to +2500
If Pittsburgh can start playing better on the road, perhaps the Penguins will make the playoffs for the 12th season in a row.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to lead the Penguins with a combined 43 goals and 67 assists.
Missing top-pair defenseman Kris Letang for 17 games has been an issue as has been his -12 defensive rating.
Goalie Tristan Jarry was limited to three games in January. When he played, he was outstanding with a 1.31 goals-against average.
6. New York Islanders (25-22-5)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+750) to +25000
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+1600) to +3300
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+3300) to +7000
The Islanders have been pretty disappointing so far as they returned most of its top players from a team expected to bounce back from an uneven 2021-22 campaign.
The Islanders just added 30-goal scorer Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks so that should help. What hasn’t helped is having wingers Oliver Wahlstrom and Kyle Palmieri miss 17 and 27 games so far this season.
Sorokin is an elite goalie so if the Islanders, who are sixth in the division in goals scored, get going on offense they could make a run at a playoff spot.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (21-21-9)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+5000) to N/A
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+5000) to +25000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+15000) to +50000
The biggest noise coming out of the Flyers so far this season has been a result of the press conferences for combustible head coach John Tortorella.
The Flyers are two games under .500 at home and that has caused some discontent with the impatient Philadelphia fans. The good news is that the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl has taken some of the attention of the Philadelphia fans away from the Flyers’ less-than-inspiring first-half performance.
Travis Konecny has already matched his career-high in goals scored despite missing six games so he has been a bright spot in a difficult season.
The Flyers are 33-18 against the NHL betting lines and that is tied with the Boston Bruins for the best mark in the NHL.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-29-4)
- Odds to win Metropolitan Division (+4000) to N/A
- Odds to win Eastern Conference (+4000) to +50000
- Odds to win the Stanley Cup (+8000) to +100000
Columbus made quite the splash with the signing of Johnny Gaudreau. He does have 49 points in 51 games. However, the Blue Jackets have scored the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference. It hasn’t helped that Gaudreau is the only Columbus player to appear in all 51 games this season. Patrik Laine and Boone Jenner have combined to miss 26 games while standout defenseman Zach Werenski was lost for the season after playing just 13 games.
Columbus has an NHL-low four wins on the road and are also under .500 at home. The goaltending has been an issue with Columbus allowing 3.84 goals per game.
Columbus heads into the break on a three-game losing streak and tied with Chicago for the fewest points in the NHL. The -67 goal differential is easily the worst in the Eastern Conference.