The NHL season is a little over three weeks old. Most teams have played at least 10 games. It might not seem like a large sample, but just about 15% of the regular season is in the books. There's a belief across the hockey world that by Thanksgiving of every year, you'll know what your team is. That's only three weeks away.
While it might be a little too early for certainty and making official declarations, we've seen enough to make informed decisions. Oddsmakers are also adjusting their numbers based on what they've seen so far.
Bruins' odds have been cut in half
The Boston Bruins have been one of the more consistent franchises across the NHL over the last 15 years. Since 2008, they've missed the playoffs just twice. During that time period, they've won a Stanley Cup and lost in the Cup Finals two other times.
However, in recent years, there has been a belief that the window might be slowly closing for the Bruins. Key players from the past like Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask have moved on and retired. They won just two playoff rounds over the last three years and were eliminated in the first round last year. They fired head coach Bruce Cassidy over the offseason.
The Bruins entered the season with 28-to-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. Eleven teams had better odds to win it all. The expectation at the start of the season was that Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk would miss some time to begin the season. However, Marchand and Grzelcyk are back already. McAvoy, one of the league's very best defensemen, seems like he should be back in the next week or two.
Even without McAvoy, the Bruins have been rolling. The Bruins are 9-1 to open the season and have won six straight games ahead of Thursday night's game with the New York Rangers. The Bruins are +115 underdogs at Madison Square Garden.
Currently at BetMGM, the Bruins are down to 12-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup. Now, just five teams have better odds to win the Cup. The Bruins' odds have been reduced by more than half in just three weeks. They entered the season with the seventh-best odds in the Eastern Conference. They now have the fourth-best odds.
Under the hood, it's all good for the Bruins. They're playing to a 54.3% expected-goal rate. David Pastrnak leads all non-Edmonton Oilers in points so far this season. New coach Jim Montgomery had success with Dallas before losing his job due to alcohol abuse issues. He's carried over that success into his second chance with the Bruins. Currently, Pastrnak is 25-to-1 to win NHL MVP. Jim Montgomery is 12-to-1 to win coach of the year.
It's only 10 games, but oddsmakers have certainly taken notice of the Bruins. They have the best record in the league and there's no reason to think they can't compete for a Stanley Cup with how they look right now.
Buy the Devils, sell the Flyers
Two of the biggest surprises to open the season have been the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils are 7-3-0 and currently lead the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers were projected to be one of the worst teams in hockey, but they're off to a solid 5-3-2 start that has them right in the thick of things.
However, a quick look at the betting market's reaction to these two teams tells us all we need to know.
The Devils were 66-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup in early October. Today, they are 25-to-1 to win it all. On the flip side, the Philadelphia Flyers were 100-to-1 to win it all. Today, they're still 100-to-1.
The Devils currently lead the NHL in terms of expected-goal rate with an unheard of 67% mark. Simply put, they dominate almost every game they play. The question has always been their goaltending. If they can get even serviceable goaltending, they can be a very dangerous team this season. Oddsmakers agree, which is represented by the fact they've moved quickly to adjust their odds.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Flyers. They have a 38.4% expected goal rate, which is the second-worst mark in the league, ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes. They're winning games because Carter Hart is performing out of this world. He leads the league in goals saved above expectation. His .943 save percentage is 38 points higher than last year and 36 points higher than his career average. Unless Hart has turned into one of the best goalies of all time over the summer, the Flyers' tumble down the standings will begin soon and oddsmakers are telling you as much.
No worries in Colorado
The defending Stanley Cup champions and current favorites to win the Cup this year are the Colorado Avalanche. However, they're off to just a 4-4-1 start.
In their most recent game on Saturday, the Avalanche blew a 3-0 lead on Long Island and lost 5-4 to the Islanders in regulation. The night before, they were shut out by the New Jersey Devils. In the most shocking stat of them all, Colorado is scoring 1.57 goals per hour at 5-on-5. That is the lowest mark in the league.
However, oddsmakers haven't budged. The Avalanche opened at +425 to win the Stanley Cup. They are still +425 to win it all, making them the betting favorites.
First and foremost, the Avalanche will not continue scoring this little at even strength. Their shooting percentage is at 4.8%. The second-lowest mark in the league is over 6% while league average is over 8.1%. Colorado has the talent level to be shooting above league average, and I'd expect them to eventually get there.
Colorado has also been a little banged up to open the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is out for about 10 more weeks. Valeri Nichushkin missed a few games, but should return soon. The Avalanche lost Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky in the offseason, so there was some concern entering the season. However, I'm willing to give them more time and it appears the betting market agrees.