Betting 2020 NHL Western Conference Division Title Futures
The race for this season's Stanley Cup is taking shape with the NHL closing in on the midway point of its regular-season schedule. Anything can happen from now until early April when the postseason gets underway. This includes the race for the two division titles in the Western Conference
Using the recent updated betting odds at BetOnline sportsbook, there is some substantial value to be found with one or two teams in each race.
Over the second half of last season, the St. Louis Blues put themselves in a position to win an NHL title, and they sealed the deal with a 4-3 series win against Boston in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. The Blues have kept things going over their first 35 games this season with 48 total points behind a 21-8-6 record.
St. Louis leads the Colorado Avalanche by three points in the standings, but it is a +250 second-favorite to hold onto that lead and win the Central Division. The Blues are averaging 3.06 goals per game, and they move to sixth in the league in goals allowed (2.63). There is still some solid value in their current odds, but there is also a reason they are second on the list.
The Avalanche is clearly the most balanced team in the Western Conference with an NHL-high 3.61 goals per game, complementing a defense that is holding opponents to 2.76 goals per game. The Oddsmakers also like this mix with Colorado set as a +150 favorite to win the division.
Dallas is also in the mix at +400, followed by Winnipeg (+700) and Nashville (+800). Given the plus money on the Blues, I would still lean in that direction. Yet, taking a 'wait and see' approach to this division race might be the best way to go right now.
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The battle for the Pacific Division title has always been one of the closest competitions in recent seasons. This holds true this season as well with the Arizona Coyotes and the Vegas Golden Knights, each listed as +175 favorites to win.
With 36 games played, Arizona holds a slight one-point lead with 44 total points. A big plus with this team is a 12-4-3 record on the road. The Coyotes are also one of the top defensive teams in the NHL with a GAA of 2.33. The most significant edge in this tight race could be the addition of forward Taylor Hall in a trade with New Jersey. He should help improve the Coyotes' one glaring weakness; a goals per game average of 2.64.
Vegas is 19-13-5 through its first 37 games with 43 points. It has picked up the pace over its last ten games at 7-2-1 to close the gap in the standings. The Golden Knights are averaging just below three goals a game (2.95), and they have a respectable 2.84 GAA. Even though this is only its third season in the league, this team plays with a veteran poise that should keep Vegas near or at the top of the division standings all season long.
Calgary (40 points) won the Pacific title last season, and the Flames are third on the list to repeat at +450 odds. Edmonton could be a value play at +700 with 42 points in 36 games. Perennial contender San Jose is 10 points back in the standings with much longer +1600 to win the division.
Arizona and Vegas are the clear frontrunners in this race, but I would take the added value in Edmonton's odds at this point of the season. Behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers are legitimate contenders in this race.