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NHL Specials: Which Struggling Contenders Will Rise or Fall?

Push “Panic” WIth Some of These NHL Teams

With each team having played at least 23 games, there is sufficient evidence to examine the shortcomings of some contenders. At least six playoff teams of last season are currently out of the picture. Their NHL betting odds to make the playoffs are bullish, even if a few of these teams won’t cooperate. Some will eventually go on a run, but which ones?

Let’s check the latest NHL picks, stats, injury reports, and NHL predictions. We’ve plenty of NHL expert picks for you to consider.

Colin White #6 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal
Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

Eastern Promises: Trio on the Bubble

Florida Panthers

There were many expecting last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winners to regress noticeably, hence a preseason point projection at 105½ points. That’s down off the 122 they produced in 2021-22. However, the Panthers are currently at an 88-point pace, which won’t cut it in the increasingly competitive East.

Florida is currently sitting fifth in the Atlantic, the second-hardest schedule remaining to play. The poor play of goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky has hampered Florida. Of the 70 qualified goaltenders, he is 66th in goals saved above average (-9.42). This team may improve, but not to get back into playoff position. At +230, it’s a solid bet online that it will miss the postseason.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – No (+230)

New York Rangers

As disappointments go, it’s tough to beat the Rangers. They’re not only on pace to miss the postseason (88 points), they’re terrible on the online gambling lines. New York is just 5-6-4 at home, and bettors would be down over $750 if they wagered $100 on every home game

Igor Shesterkin, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, has not been as dominant. He’s been solid. That’s not cutting it. Even if New York finds its stride, it will be hard-pressed to catch the top three in the Metropolitan. The team also has the hardest strength of schedule remaining.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – No (-140)

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Washington Capitals

The flip side finds the Capitals. They’re miserable on the road, a 36.7 point percentage (4-8-3) that’s fourth-worst in the NHL. It is decent at home (7-4-1), but even if the team has more home games remaining, it is looking as old as its star player, 37-year-old Alex Ovechkin. It’s hard to feel optimistic about this team even if “Ovi” is breaking records.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – No (-260)

Western Rivals: Alberta Teams Floundering

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton, like Florida, is a prolific offensive team getting killed by its inept goaltending. So much for paying Jack Campbell all that money. If Bobrovsky was 66th in goals saved above average, Campbell is 70th (-12.70). Maybe just play Stuart Skinner more, even if he has an identical (7-6-0) record.

It’s not just Campbell who’s underachieving here. Edmonton needs more out of defenseman Evan Bouchard (26 games, 11 points, a team-worst -12), as well as their third and fourth lines. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are still scoring at obscene rates, and a “softer” schedule is waiting down the road. However, -300 to clinch a playoff spot? We don’t recommend that.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – No (+240)

Calgary Flames

So, stop us if you’ve heard this before, the team losing because its goaltending stinks. That’s what we have yet again as Calgary’s Jakob Markstrom, last season’s Vezina Trophy bridesmaid, has been subpar consistently. Despite an 8-6-2 record, he is averaging his worst stats as a starting netminder since moving to Canada (2014-15).

Maybe Dan Vladar (4-4-1) simply get more starts, or maybe Markstrom simply improves. They don’t need to be that great, as this team is top-eight in major 5-on-5 metrics like Corsi and expected goals difference. Daryl Sutter won’t let his team just fall apart, and it has the easiest remaining schedule.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – Yes (-400)

St. Louis Blues

Blame shoddy goaltending again, now as a reason behind the Blues’ slow demise. Jordan Binnington has lost his last six starts, having surrendered four or more goals five times. The 29-year-old is notoriously streaky, just like his team.

They’re below average in almost every metric available. We can’t count this team out entirely while Craig Berube is at the helm. Take a shot that the Blues have one last magical run in them.

  • Pick: To Make the Playoffs – Yes (+275)
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