The NHL Playoff race is going to be stacked this season, and the Washington Capitals look like they’ll be right in the mix.
Current NHL betting odds are showing as many as 26 teams with a legitimate shot of making the NHL playoffs, leaving the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets on the outside looking in.
But what’s even more interesting has to be the conference breakdowns and how the competition will vary in the East and West this season.
Let’s take a look:
Eastern Conference Outlook
As of this junction, the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maples Leafs and New Jersey Devils are projected to reign over the Eastern Conference next season.
All three clubs either maintained their cores or improved upon them with some wheeling and dealing.
The Devils are perhaps the more intriguing of the trio, having burst onto the scene last year as a powerhouse club, they’re now expected to take an even bigger step this season as their top youngsters improve.
They’re followed by the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, and Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins; which is where things will get incredibly interesting.
There would only be five spots available for the nine teams listed above; and it’s expected to hit another level from last season.
The Florida Panthers squeaked into the NHL Playoffs last season with a meager 92 points, and, from looking at the way the Eastern Conference has improved in general, you can expect teams would need close to 96 points to make the spring dance this year.
So where does that leave the Washington Capitals in the East?
The Capitals have “bounce-back team” written all over them this year, despite the NHL playoff odds.
The 2022-2023 campaign was mired in injuries from start to finish, while this season looks to be a fresh start for the organization and a healthy one at that, outside of newcomer Max Pacioretty.
Having a supporting cast that includes Dylan Strome, Sonny Milano, Tom Wilson and a potentially resurgent Anthony Mantha could go a long way in securing the Capitals’ spot among the top eight teams in the conference.
It is always possible to beat the odds, as we saw last season, with the Devils, Kraken and Wild jumping up well beyond where they were expected to land.
It will be an absolute fight from Game 1, but the Capitals look like they can measure up against the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel.