The landscape of the NHL is beginning to shape up as we approach the third month of the 2023-24 season, especially in New York.
Through 21 games, the New York Islanders have struggled. The Isles are fifth in the Metropolitan Division with 22 points. The main issue for the Islanders stems from defensive lapses. New York has the second-worst scoring differential in the Metropolitan Division at -11, with the Columbus Blue Jackets right behind at -12. Plus, the Islanders have blown multiple third period leads, most recently giving up three goals to the New Jersey Devils en route to a loss.
The Devils are right behind the Islanders in the standings with 21 points through 20 games. Center Jack Hughes leads the team in assists with 19 and points with 26. However, New Jersey is still searching for its footing with so many injuries to the roster after a playoff appearance and series win a year ago.
The team that has gotten off to a very hot start is the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts, through 20 games, have 15 wins and 31 points. That’s the best record in the Metropolitan Division. New York also holds the best scoring differential in the Eastern Conference.
Early in the season, the NHL picture begins to show. Fans get to see who the contenders are for a Stanley Cup and which players they should keep an eye on. With that, here are the best bets to take at this point in the NHL season.
NHL BEST BETS: New York Rangers to Win Stanley Cup (+800)
The key to betting on futures this early in the season is to go big or go home. Through a quarter of the season, the Rangers look like a true Stanley Cup contender. New York even took down the favorite to win the Stanley Cup on DraftKings in the Boston Bruins two days after Thanksgiving 7-4 in Madison Square Garden.
This is a group loaded with talent up front. Winger Artemi Panarin leads the team in points with 30, and that mark is good for fifth in the NHL. Plus, the goalies for New York have been exceptional. Jonathan Quick is an experienced backup to Igor Shesterkin. He’s second in the league in average goals given up per game with just under two. In just eight games, Quick is showing his ability to take some of the load off of Shesterkin.
On the Shesterkin point, the netminder has eight wins while allowing just 30 goals this season. Shesterkin has yet to record a shutout this season after posting three a year ago. Quick has two shoutouts, but the goalies are holding well with such a great offense in front of them.
In addition to Panarin upfront, winger Chris Kreider has been a goal-scoring machine. Kreider leads the team in goals with 13. The forward is tied for fourth in the NHL in goals. There’s a five-way tie in that spot with Kreider, J.T. Miller, Sidney Crosby, David Pastrnak, and Frank Vatrano. With Panarin and Kreider, New York has two players with double-digit goals, and Alexis Lafrenière has eight tallies.
This is a Rangers group that loves to move the puck. Four players on the roster are in double digits for assists, and this is a deep team poised to make a run. New York made the playoffs last year after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2022. However, last year they fell to the Devils in seven games in the first round. New York reloaded and is ready to make noise in the playoffs. Take this bet at good odds on DraftKings.
Jack Hughes Under 37.5 Goals Scored (-120)
Jack Hughes is a spectacular player, but Hughes is showing that he is much more of a facilitator than a natural scorer. Last year, the center put up a career-high 43 goals. With only 15 games played since he missed some time due to an upper-body injury, Hughes has just seven so far this season.
Other players have stepped up in the goal-scoring department such as Tyler Toffoli and Jesper Bratt, but Hughes leads the team in assists with 19. With so many goal scorers on the roster, Hughes could make a drop from the 43 goals he posted last season. Expect Hughes’ playmaking to show in this Devils offense this season, which may lead to 37 goals or fewer in 2023-24 for New Jersey.