A look at how the Rangers, Islanders, Bruins and Flyers will fare in the 2018-’19 season. You can bet on NHL over under win totals now at Sugar House.
New York Rangers Under 75.5 points
After a discouraging season that saw Alain Vigneault get dismissed in favor of rookie head coach David Quinn, the Rangers are projected to be one of the worst teams in hockey. In fact, only the Ottawa Senators have a lower season point total line (68.5).
New York dismantled their team for draft picks and prospects at the deadline, so precious few household names remain. Just five skaters expected to make the Opening Night roster are above 30 years old, so youngsters like Filip Chytil will have to step up and deliver for the Rangers to even be competitive. Of course, GM Jeff Gorton is planning for the future and is not expecting to vie for a playoff spot.
Henrik Lundqvist will steal some games between the pipes, but the Rangers can’t expect to do well when Mats Zuccarello is their leading scorer.
New York Islanders Over 80.5 points
The Islanders are not doomed to mediocrity despite losing John Tavares in the offseason. Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal is capable of leading this offense. He would pair nicely with Anders Lee, who recorded 40 goals last season with Tavares as his linemate. Offseason pickup Valtteri Filppula adds to the depth at forward, as
Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle are still in the fold.
The Isles’ defense remains work in progress, but Robin Lehner represents an upgrade at goaltender over the inconsistent Jaroslav Halak.
The new men behind the bench and in the front office, specifically head coach Barry Trotz and GM Lou Lamoriello, bring championship pedigree that has been sorely lacking for decades in this organization. A quick turnaround and a borderline playoff season would not be a surprise.
Boston Bruins Under 101.5 points
Boston is fresh off a 50-win, 110-point season, but there’s reason to believe this team will decline.
The Bruins’ depth was tested severely at times last year, with Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, David Krejci missing chunks of the regular season, necessitating the Rick Nash trade. Nash’s potential absence as he mulls his hockey future could really hurt Boston, especially if the Bruins’ big guns miss multiple games again.
Boston’s defense is not as reliable as it once was, as Zdeno Chara is on his last legs at age 41. If Chara slows down or gets injured, linemate Charlie McAvoy will be truly tested for the first time. Brandon Carlo and Torrey Krug missing playoff games due to injury was part of Boston’s downfall in the second round last year. They can’t afford to see them miss time in the regular season.
Finally, replacing Anton Khudobin with Jaroslav Halak as the backup goalie will damage the Bruins’ chances at a 100-point season more than many realize.
Philadelphia Flyers Over 97.5 points
The Flyers are one of the more exciting young teams in the NHL. They finished at 98 points and made the playoffs last year before getting bounced out in six games by the Penguins in a high-octane first round series.
Among the talent at forward is Claude Giroux, fresh off a career-high 102-point season. Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are dynamic goal-scorers, and they had help last year in the form of rookie Nolan Patrick, who should improve in his sophomore season. Adding James Van Riemsdyk in the offseason was just icing on the cake.
Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere headman a terrific defense for Philadelphia that allowed the fifth-fewest shots on goal in the NHL last year.
Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth represent a weak spot for the Flyers in net, but as long as they play adequately for the majority of the season the Flyers can eclipse 100 points.