With the 2020-21 NHL season entering its second week of action, now is a great time to offer up some expert NHL betting predictions on the NHL’s eight-team East Division. That said, let’s get right to it so you can keep betting against their NHL odds.
2021 NHL Season Predictions: East Division
First, Boston and Buffalo will be divisional opponents for a 50th consecutive season dating to 1970-71, the longest such active streak in the NHL. The Rangers and Islanders are in the same division for a 48th consecutive season while the Flyers join the pair of Big Apple teams for a 46th straight season. Philly, the New Jersey Devils, and the Rangers are all in the same division for the 38th consecutive season.
The Bruins and Rangers will play in the same division for the 20th time in their storied histories, but for the first time in nearly a half-century. The Original Six rivals were in the American Division together for each of New York’s first 12 seasons (1926-1938) and in the original East Division for the first seven seasons of the League’s expansion era (1967-1974).
The new realignment also puts the Buffalo Sabres, Rangers and Islanders all in the same division for the first time in nearly 50 years. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will be in the same division for a 22nd straight season and 41st time overall since joining the NHL together in 1967-68
Boston and Philadelphia are set to resume a historic rivalry that once featured several memorable playoff battles in the 1970s between the “Big Bad Bruins” and “Broad Street Bullies”, including a meeting in the 1974 Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins (2019-20, 2013-14), Washington Capitals (2016-17, 2015-16) and Rangers (2014-15) have combined for five of the last seven Presidents’ Trophy wins.
This season, the top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with inter-divisional play in the first two rounds of postseason action.
- Additions: Erik Gustafsson, Derrick Pouliot
- Subtractions: Derek Grant, Tyler Pitlick, Nate Thompson, Kurtis Gabriel
The Flyers went 41-21-7 last season to finish second to Washington in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia finished an impressive seventh in scoring (3.3 gpg) and an identical seventh in goals allowed (2.8 gpg). While the Flyers didn’t make any huge offseason additions, this high-flying club is clearly going to be a force to be reckoned with moving forward with four players finishing with at least 20 goals and a future Vezina Trophy winner in net in the gifted Carter Hart who went 24-13 with a 2.42 goals-against-average.
- Additions: Zdeno Chara, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Daniel Carr, Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz,
- Subtractions: Travis Boyd, Radko Gudas, Braden Holtby
Washington went 41-20-8 to finish atop the Metropolitan division standings last season. The Caps finished a modest 18th in goals allowed (3.1 gpg) but also finished a stellar second in scoring (3.4 gpg). Defenseman John Carlson recorded a team-high 75 points while dishing out 60 assists while superstar future Hall of Fame winger Alex Ovechkin tied for the league-high with 48 goals. I love Washington’s addition of veteran defensemen Zdeno Chara, Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk, but the Caps could have some struggles in goal after parting ways with longtime net-minder Braden Holtby in favor of veteran Henrik Lundqvist only to see the longtime Rangers goalie hang up his skates just prior to the start of the regular season. Still, the Caps can outscore most teams and look like a team that will challenge to win this realigned division.
- Additions: Craig Smith, Greg McKegg
- Subtractions: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Joakim Nordstrom
The Bruins went a stupendous 44-14-12 to finish with the best record in all of hockey, but Boston went belly up once the postseason started. The Bruins finished ninth in scoring (3.2 gpg) and a league-leading first in goals allowed (2.4 gpg).
Veteran net-minder Tuukka Rask is back in goal after going 26-11 with five shutouts and a stellar 2.12 goals against average. Superstar winger David Pastrnak finished tied with a league-high 48 goals and the addition of veteran Craig Smith should help at both ends of the ice. However, the losses of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug are huge blows I believe will set Boston back a bit in 2021.
New York Islanders
- Additions: Austin Czarnik, Cory Schneider, A.J. Greer, Dmytro Timashov
- Subtractions: Derick Brassard, Thomas Greiss, Kyle Burroughs, Devon Toews, Johnny Boychuk
The Islanders went a modest 35-23-10 to finish sixth in the Metro Division. New York ranked an uninspiring 22nd in scoring (2.8 gpg), but an encouraging ninth in goals allowed (2.8 gpg). More importantly, the Isles caught fire in the postseason and dispatched several higher seeds to reach the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to eventual champion Tampa Bay.
Devon Toews is gone and Johnny Boychuk retired, but I love New York’s pair of centers, Matthew Barzal (60 points) and Brock Nelson (54 points) and goalie Semyon Varlamov who finished with a solid 2.62 GAA. Most NHL experts aren’t expecting much out of the Islanders, but I think they can easily build on last season’s playoff run!
- Additions: Kasperi Kapanen, Maxime Lagace, Mark Jankowski, Evan Rodrigues, Codi Ceci, Jonathan Gruden, Mike Matheson, Colton Sceviour
- Subtractions: Matt Murray, Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary, Dominik Simon, Jack Johnson, Justin Schultz, Riley Barber, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Bjugstad
Pittsburgh went 40-23-6 to finish third in the Metropolitan Division while ranking 10th in scoring (3.2 gpg) and 12th in goals allowed (2.8 gpg). The Penguins made a series of roster-altering moves like adding veterans Kasperi Kapanen and Maxime Lagace, first and foremost, I believe Pittsburgh’s success this season is far too dependent on the play of goalie Tristan Jarry after parting ways with veteran Matt Murray. Still, the Pens will score their fair share of goals as long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are upright and healthy and that means Pittsburgh will be in the mix for a top-four finish.
New York Rangers
- Additions: Colin Blackwell, Kevin Rooney, Jack Johnson, Jonny Brodzinski, Anthony Greco
- Subtractions: Jesper Fast, Greg McKegg, Henrik Lundqvist, Micheal Haley, Vinni Lettieri, Lias Andersson
The Rangers went 37-28-5 last season to finish seventh in the Metropolitan Division. New York finished an impressive fifth in scoring (3.3 gpg), but uninspiring 23rd in goals allowed (3.1 gpg). The Rangers do have a pair of elite forwards in winger Artemi Panarin (32 goals, 95 points) and Mika Zibanejad (41 goals, 75 points), but they parted ways with longtime net-minder Henrik Lundqvist and will be going with the duo of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. I’m expecting some struggles out of the Rangers in 2021.
- Additions: Taylor Hall, Matt Irwin, Tobias Rieder, Brandon Davidson, Cody Eakin, Eric Staal
- Subtractions: Michael Frolik, Dominik Kahun, Johan Larsson, Wayne Simmonds, Jimmy Vesey, Marcus Johansson
Buffalo went a modest 30-31-8 to finish sixth in the Atlantic Division last season. The Sabres finished a uninspiring 21st in scoring (2.8 gpg) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.1 gpg), but they did add all-star winger and 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall in arguably the biggest offseason signing in the league. Still, playing in a loaded division that features at least five legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, it’s hard for me to see Buffalo coming close to sniffing a playoff berth in 2021!
New Jersey Devils
- Additions: Corey Crawford, Scott Wedgewood, Dmitry Kulikov, Ryan Murray, Andreas Johnsson, Sami Vatanen
- Subtractions: John Hayden, Kevin Rooney, Dakota Mermis, Mirco Mueller, Cory Schneider, Joey Anderson
New Jersey went 28-29-12 last season to finish last in the Metro Division while ranking 24th in scoring (2.7 gpg) and 29th in goals allowed (3.2 gpg). The Devils added veteran net-minder Corey Crawford to back up 24-year-old starter MacKenzie Blackwood and I like their addition of Andreas Johnsson, but this club is so far away from challenging, it’s not worth mentioning!