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Vegas Predicts the 2008-09 Season

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I posted the Las Vegas odds last year. In general Vegas did pretty well, they beat my attempt to predict all 30 teams. However, they missed badly on the Thrashers pegging them as a low 90 point team when they ended up finished as a low 70 point team--a 20 point miss. In general I'd say their over/under lines for the entire Southeast Division are a bit weak. This year I think Vegas is low on the Thrashers.

99.5 MON
98.5 PIT
97.5 NJD

According to Vegas the clear favorites in the East are the Canadians, Penguins and Devils. Personally I think the Penguins are going to struggle with massive turnover up front and Gonchar and Whitney out for an extended period. As always the Devils season hinges on Brodeur starting 70 games--any injuries and they come in much lower.

94.5 OTT
94.5 PHI
93.5 WSH
93.5 NYR
91.5 BUF
91.5 BOS
91.5 TBL
89.5 CAR

Next we have a cluster of 8 teams sparring for 5 playoff berths. Within that group I'm bullish on Buffalo and bearish on Carolina (key injuries to Williams and Brind'amour and Cam Ward doesn't live up to his reputation). Washington and Tampa are two Eastern Teams projected for big jumps. The Rangers have some very talented young guys but I could see them struggle to gel and they have to replace all the points that left with Jagr, Straka and Shanahan.

82.5 FLA
79.5 ATL
76.5 TOR
74.5 NYI

The Thrashers in the bottom cluster, however the addition of Schneider pushes them above that number in my opinion. I think the Islanders are just a terrible team and agree that they will finish dead last in the NHL.

109.5 DET
102.5 SJS
100.5 ANA
99.5 DAL

The favorites out west include 3 Pacific Division teams, mathematically it is very tough for three teams in the same division to all hit 100 points.

94.5 CGY
94.5 CHI
93.5 EDM
92.5 MIN
91.5 COL

In the middle we find 5 times battling it out for 4 playoff slots. I'm bearish on Calgary and Colorado and I would but Minnesota higher than that. Vegas sees Chicago and Edmonton as the two most improved teams in the Western Conference.

85.5 VAN
83.5 NSH
83.5 CBJ
82.5 PHX
79.5 STL
77.5 LAK

There are a lot of very exciting young players in this bottom group. One of these teams could make a Capitals style leap up the standings this season. The Coyotes are very intriguing but extremely young. Nashville was dealt a great blow when Radulov went to the KHL. The Blues took a big hit with Erik Johnson injury but rookie Berglund could make a splash for them. Columbus had a major roster make over--if they can gel quickly they might stay in the playoff race.