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Vegas Rates the Southeast Division as a Tie

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First, let me say that I'm not a gambler. Other than the occasional March Madness or Super Bowl pool I just don't bet on things. However, I must say that I do find it interesting to see what people who put their own money on the line think about the up coming season. So let's take a look at the over/under odds for the teams in the Southeast Division:

1. 92.5 Atlanta
1. 92.5 Tampa
1. 92.5 Carolina
4. 84.5 Florida
5. 77.5 Washington

So basically the professional odds makers think that it is a coin flip to see who will win the division. Wow, that should make for a wild season if it works out that way. There might be a lot of chewed down fingernails at Philips Arena if we have a three way tie heading into the final month of the season.

In reality luck will play a factor. Injuries (like Dan Boyle), trades, unexpected breakouts and slumps by key players will likely produce some separation between these three teams. I have to say that my own standings prediction model projects the Eastern conference playoff race to be insanely tight. A key injury will probably determine the outcome, just as injuries to Toronto and Montreal were significant reasons those two teams just missed out on the post-season while other teams like the Islanders and Tampa made it.

Here is the overall Eastern over/under as ranked by the professional odds makers:

The "Print the Playoff Tickets" Now Group
1. 105.5 PIT
2. 104.5 OTT
3. 103.5 NYR
4. 94.5 BUF
5. 93.5 TOR
5. 93.5 NJD
I think the Devils might finally slip this year after losing Rafalski. Their blueline is looking fairly unimpressive to me and that will put a lot pressure on their offense to score more and Brodeur to remain fantastic.

The "Wait and See" Group
7. 92.5 ATL
7. 92.5 CAR
7. 95.5 TBL
7. 92.5 PHI
11. 91.5 MON
Five teams battling for the last two playoff spots--that would be very entertaining and nerve wracking.

The "Are You Joking?" Group
12. 85.5 NYI
13. 84.5 FLA
14. 79.5 BOS
15. 77.5 WAS
Some people are really high on Florida to make the jump from playoff pretender to contender they need Horton and Weiss to each make another step forward in my opinion.