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NHL Central Division Midseason Report: New Contender Arises

The NFL playoffs may be here, but elsewhere in the sports world, there’s plenty of time left to change the trajectory of the season. We’re now at the halfway point of the NHL season, and that’s the best time to check in on teams and do some online hockey betting, seeing who has the best chances of grabbing first in each division and what teams may have fallen off the path.

The race in the Central Division remains a tight one at the top, and while a couple of the same contenders from last season remain, a new challenger sits in first in Winnipeg.

NHL Central Division Midseason Report: New Contender Arises
Nino Niederreiter #62 of the Winnipeg Jets | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP

Five points currently separate the top three, indicating it could be a battle until the end. With close NHL odds for any of the three to grab top billing, the time is now to make your NHL picks on who end the season on top.

Contenders: Top Three Toss-Up

1. Winnipeg Jets: Chance at First (+150 odds to win division)

The Jets made the playoffs via a wild-card spot last season, but they can become an automatic qualifier and have the chance at a top seed if they continue the path they’re on. Winnipeg has won 9 of its last 10 to take over first place in the Central, notching 62 points.

The Jets’ defense has been on fire, allowing 1.5 goals a game in their last 10, posting a shutout once, to keep them in first in goals allowed per game at 2.29. Their goalies boast a .924 combined save percentage, first in the league.

With one of the best goal differentials in the league at +44 and an equally impressive road record as at home, going 13-4-2 away from home, the Jets should be a strong NHL bet to finish the season strong and contend for top seeding.

2. Colorado Avalanche: Keeping It Close (+150)

Not to be passed by, Colorado is one point behind Winnipeg and will be looking to defend the Central Division title. The Avalanche have been on a tear of their own, winning 8 of their last 10 to tie the Jets for 29 wins so far.

Colorado has been led by its offense, ranking second in the league averaging 3.73 goals a game, and that has rung true during its recent run as well, where it has averaged 4.1 goals a game. The duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have been key contributors to that offense once again, the former is second in the NHL in points as well. In the second half, the Avalanche’s schedule gets a lot harder. After having over half of its games at home in the front end against weaker opponents, the opposite will now be true, as Colorado will face tougher competition and have more games on the road.

3. Dallas Stars: Still in It (+325)

The Stars finished a point behind Colorado last season for second place in the division, but they’ll have to do a little more work to grab first, as they currently sit five points behind the Jets.

Though Dallas has had some injury troubles with starting goalie Jake Oettinger, it hasn’t affected it too much due to its offense. The Stars are third in the NHL averaging 3.67 goals a game, and their penalty kill has been strong as well, fighting off 84.9% of power plays for third in the league.

Despite the latter, Dallas’ defense has still remained in the middle of the pack, giving up three goals a game. Luckily for the Stars’, they’ve been better on the road than at home, giving up 2.42 goals a game on the road as opposed to 3.46 at home. With a 12-4-3 road record and more games away from home in the back half, Dallas has the chance to remain in the fight for first.

Pretenders: Not Your Year

1. Nashville Predators: Playoff Hopes Alive (+10000)

The Predators have a strong chance at getting into the playoffs with a wild-card, but sitting eight points behind Dallas, an automatic qualification seems like a long shot. However, to do the former, Nashville will also have to remain solid at picking up road wins, as 56% of its games are on the road in the second half.

2. Arizona Coyotes: Seeking Consistency (+15000)

The Coyotes aren’t yet out of the wild-card race either, but they’ll need to find some more consistency in the second half. Though Arizona would go on winning streaks highlighted by strong defense, it would then be followed by a losing skid of the same kind due to a defensive collapse, making the team hard to pin down.

3. St. Louis Blues: Offensive Issues (+20000)

Though the Blues have left much to be desired on the defensive end, giving up 3.19 goals a game, their offense has been the bigger issue. St. Louis is seventh-worst in the league scoring 2.81 goals a game while its power play is operating around the same level, converting on 13.8% of chances.

4. Minnesota Wild: Undergoing Change (+15000)

The Wild ousted head coach Dean Evason after a dreadful start this season, and while it looked like that would be the difference, things are back to normal, as they have lost 8 of their last 10. Minnesota has dealt with its fair share of injuries as well, but it also hasn’t got the production it’s needed from some of its top stars that made it a contender in the past either.

5. Chicago Blackhawks: Rebuilding (+50000)

The Blackhawks have the second-worst goal differential in the league as they have struggled both offensively and defensively, ranking in the bottom five in both units. However, with the number of injuries Chicago has dealt with and the one bright spot being Connor Bedard, a few struggles were to be expected.


Odds to Win the Stanley Cup

  • Winnipeg Jets: +1500
  • Colorado Avalanche: +800
  • Dallas Stars: +1100
  • Nashville Predators: +8000
  • Arizona Coyotes: +15000
  • St. Louis Blues: +12500
  • Minnesota Wild: +5000
  • Chicago Blackhawks: +50000



Questions Of The Day

How could the midseason trades impact the performance of the Arizona Coyotes?

If the Coyotes find another scorer it could help them contend for a wild-card spot.

Could the defensive strength of the Colorado Avalanche influence the under bet in their games?

Colorado is much stronger offensively than it is defensively, so an over bet in its games is more likely.

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