Bookmakers will tell you that numbers on season totals (wins in most sports, points in hockey) are not a prediction on a given league’s standings, just a projection on each team individually with a portion of the research predicated on perceptions on public betting patterns.
Annually, however, I have listed these totals by division (instead of a single, alphabetical list), allowing the bettor to better understand the projections by a sports book.
A classic example utilizing the divisional pattern shows the Washington Capitals, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, will not repeat as Metro Divisional champions. The Caps are listed at 98.5 points, five behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (103.5).
A similar flip among clubs which finished 1-2 last season is found in the Central Division, where the Winnipeg Jets are now above the Nashville Predators. Of course, the Jets-played series win over the Preds might have affected the line, but the Caps beat the Pens in the postseason yet are now below Pittsburgh.
Among the other divisions, few are surprised Pacific Division titlist Vegas is projected to fall below last season’s 109-point total. However, even more surprising, the club to replace the Golden Knights is San Jose. But when you look at the totals, the bookmaker may be as lost as the public.
The Sharks are listed first at 97.5, while Vegas and Anaheim are just a point back at 96.5, although the Ducks were one of two sides to see action on the Under.
Next in the Pacific is the Los Angeles Kings at 93.5, but that total is so low, five teams in the Central Division are listed higher. Translation: L.A. would be ninth overall in the conference and not part of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The intrigue in the Central is the top-to-bottom balance. The middle of the pack is log-jammed among Minnesota and St. Louis (95.5), Dallas (94.5), and Colorado (90.5), although the Avalanche actually posted 95 points last season.
At the bottom, the Chicago Blackhawks despite three Cup crowns over the past decade.
• Many clubs which played very well late in the season – Colorado, Florida and Minnesota, among others all saw lower projected point totals. Thus, the win streaks were considered aberrations and each of the totals were lowered.
• Bottom feeders (teams which finished among the last two in each division) all have higher projected numbers (even Ottawa), except one: the N.Y. Rangers.
• If Vegas actually drops its point total by double figures, who would benefit? Probably the bottom teams in the Pacific with Edmonton (+13.5), Arizona (+10.5) and (Calgary (+9.5) expected to be the main benefactors. Of course, the Oilers were major under-achievers in 2017-18, so we should expect more from both clubs in Alberta? The biggest rise; Buffalo (+17.5).
• Florida is projected to advance to the field of 16 this season after falling just short of catching New Jersey, which features Hart Trophy (MVP) winner Taylor Hall.
2018-19 NHL Point Totals
Pacific Division last yr, this yr
San Jose Sharks (100) 97.5
Vegas Golden Knights (109) 96.5
Anaheim Ducks (101) 96.5
Los Angeles Kings (98) 93.5
Calgary Flames (84) 93.5
Edmonton Oilers (78) 91.5
Arizona Coyotes (70) 80.5
Vancouver Canucks (73) 77.5
Winnipeg Jets (114) 106.5
Nashville Predators (117) 105.5
Minnesota Wild (101) 95.5
St. Louis Blues (94) 95.5
Dallas Stars (92) 94.5
Colorado Avalanche (95) 90.5
Chicago Blackhawks (76) 84.5
Tampa Bay Lightning (113) 107.5
Boston Bruins (112) 102.5
Toronto Maple Leafs (105) 106.5
Florida Panthers (96) 94.5
Montreal Canadiens (71) 80.5
Buffalo Sabres (62) 79.5
Detroit Red Wings (73) 75.5
Ottawa Senators (67) 71.5
Pittsburgh Penguins (100) 103.5
Washington Capitals (105) 98.5
Philadelphia Flyers (98) 98.5
Columbus Blue Jackets (97) 97.5
New Jersey Devils (97) 91.5
Carolina Hurricanes (83) 84.5
N.Y. Islanders (80) 83.5
N.Y. Rangers (77) 75.5
Source: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook