Parsing through team over/under totals for the coming season

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Well, if Grapes is looking for something to invest that crisp $100 bill in..

The 2014-15 NHL season is rapidly approaching. Respective prospect tournaments and training camps are starting any day now, and the preseason schedule itself gets going less than two weeks from now. Those are sure-fire signs that hockey is on the horizon. 

Another harbinger that makes that realization feel more tangible? Bovada has released their over/under lines for team point totals this coming season. 

Keeping in mind that gambling lines tend to be fluid and shift routinely based on which side the public happens to be directing their money towards, I’ve gone ahead and put together a chart that hopefully illuminates a few interesting trends at the moment:

13-’14 14-’15 O/U Difference
Buffalo Sabres 52 65.5 13.5
Edmonton Oilers 67 80.5 13.5
New York Islanders 79 85.5 6.5
Los Angeles Kings 100 106.5 6.5
Florida Panthers 66 71.5 5.5
Vancouver Canucks 83 88.5 5.5
Toronto Maple Leafs 84 88.5 4.5
Chicago Blackhawks 107 111.5 4.5
Dallas Stars 91 92.5 1.5
Minnesota Wild 98 98.5 0.5
New York Rangers 96 95.5 -0.5
Detroit Red Wings 93 91.5 -1.5
Carolina Hurricanes 83 81.5 -1.5
Washington Capitals 90 88.5 -1.5
Columbus Blue Jackets 93 90.5 -2.5
New Jersey Devils 88 84.5 -3.5
Philadelphia Flyers 94 90.5 -3.5
Pittsburgh Penguins 109 105.5 -3.5
Winnipeg Jets 84 80.5 -3.5
Boston Bruins 117 112.5 -4.5
Calgary Flames 77 71.5 -5.5
St.Louis Blues 111 105.5 -5.5
Tampa Bay Lightning 101 94.5 -6.5
Montreal Canadiens 100 93.5 -6.5
Arizona Coyotes 89 80.5 -8.5
San Jose Sharks 111 102.5 -8.5
Ottawa Senators 88 78.5 -9.5
Nashville Predators 88 78.5 -9.5
Anaheim Ducks 116 105.5 -10.5
Colorado Avalanche 112 95.5 -16.5

The Biggest Fallers

Colorado Avalanche

If you’re a devout reader of this network of sites, you’re likely already readily familiar with the two teams at the bottom as ones that’ve been highlighted as prime regression candidates this coming season. Particularly the Avalanche, whose 5v5 PDO of 101.8 last season was the 3rd most inflated mark in the league. While they benefitted from a high shooting percentage collectively, it was Semyon Varlamov’s equally unexpected and elite performance that waves high in the sky as the biggest red flag

They were a bottom of the barrel possession team last season, and despite the expected progression of some of their younger players they’ll be hard-pressed to improve in that regard given that their particularly curious summer saw them lose two legitimate top-6 forwards while replacing them with a pair of formerly great players now over 35 years old. As scintillating as MacKinnon and Duchene promise to be, it’s difficult to envision them once again being able to overcome a defense corps that’ll heavily feature Brad Stuart should the bottom fall out from under their goaltending. 

Unfortunately, people are getting smarter. After spending countless weeks rubbing my hands together waiting to pounce on what seemed like an inevitable 100+ line for the Avs, since the moment the totals were published their’s has been rapidly dropping and dropping and dropping and dropp–..

Nashville Predators

I’d be curious to hear the reasoning for why the Nashville Predators will be 10 points worse than they were in a year in which Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton started nearly 60 games for them. Pekka Rinne and his career .918 save % figure to be back between the pipes now that his hip situation has been sorted out, which is good news for a team that stopped the 3rd fewest rate of shots against at 5v5 last season.

Despite losing Mike Fisher to injury, their forward group looks significantly better with the likes of James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen all now in the mix. It’s not a group of world-beaters by any means, but at the very least it’s a crew of solid NHLers that seem like decent enough buy-low reclamation projects. Heck, maybe they have a little bit left in the tank for the Perds to squeeze out.

There’s also a non-zero chance that Seth Jones takes a big leap in his 2nd season in the league, after an expectedly up-and-down rookie campaign. That could be a massive development for a blueline that’s already looking good as is.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are coming off of a hilariously befuddling offseason in which they signed every single Face Puncher available and made a point of publicly shaming their best players. Most of that was done in an over-reactionary state to an unfortunate playoff exit, but their line here feels like it’s just keeping up with that theme more than anything else.

Despite everything they did, none of it was irreversible and there’s a good chance that none of it matters if those aforementioned Face Punchers don’t draw into the lineup. And after all, it’s important to keep in mind that despite all of the chatter that prevailed throughout the summer their best players remain in tow (for the time being at the very least). They’re still a really good team, and seem undervalued at the price you can get them at right now.

The Biggest Risers

Buffalo Sabres

The line of reasoning for setting the line for Sabres at 65.5 is sound, at least in theory. Their 52 points last season made them the first team since the Flyers back in ’06-’07 to finish a year with fewer than 60 points. Just purely based off of recent history, one would have to think that they’d at the very least hover around the low-60s next season.

But that one person would be overlooking the fact that they’re headed into the season with Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth as their tandem between the pipes. With all due respect to those individuals, there isn’t much in their past performance to indicate that they’ll have any semblance of a fighting shot to survive the inevitable barrage they’re set to face night in and night out. 

It’s also worth considering that Tim Murray clearly has a plan in place there, and with a last place finish essentially guaranteeing a team either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, don’t be surprised if you’re seeing.. [/performs a quick Google search to make sure that Brian Flynn is a forward].. BRIAN FLYNN leading a high powered attack next season in Buffalo!

New York Islanders

The Islanders had as good of a summer as anyone could’ve reasonably hoped for, nailing it out of the park in all respects. The biggest acquisition of all was unquestionably the addition of Jaroslav Halak, who has quietly been remarkably consistent at being ‘comfortably above league average’. Just that alone is a monumental upgrade from the Evgeni Nabokov/Kevin Poulin/Anders Nilsson comedic triumvirate who gave up the 3rd most goals in the league last season.

Beyond that, they’re getting their star back from injury, and have given him some help by essentially signing a brand new 2nd line to play behind him. Even the likes of TJ Brennan and Cory Conacher were quality low-risk signings that could quite realistically contribute to the cause next season. 

Furthermore, they’re playing in a Metro Division that’s muddied at best, with a legitimate opening beyond the Penguins as the Rangers and Flyers got markedly worse while the Hurricanes and Capitals remained mediocre. I feel pretty good about the Islanders getting back to where they were two years ago, and apparently the general public does as well; their line has been bet up to 85.5 and you’re only getting -125 to bet the over on that. 

Vancouver Canucks

I’m often hesitant to attribute too much of a team’s success or failure on a coach, because that generally seems to be an awfully convenient route to take in your analysis. With that being said, it seems unfathomable that a coach – even one with no prior experience on the coach – could be anything but an upgrade from someone that openly refused to work on his team’s two biggest deficiencies in practice.

2013-14 was a comedy of errors for the Canucks as nearly every key contributor either had an uncharacteristic drop in play, an injury, or both. Their power play can’t possibly be less productive all things considered, and regardless of what you may think of the Ryan Miller signing at least it means poor Eddie Lack won’t have to start 20+ games in a row again. 

When your fantasy draft rolls around in a few weeks, you’d be well served to buy low on a handful of players from this team. In particular Alex Edler, who can only go up from where he finished off last season.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Math!

The Others

  • New Jersey Devils (Over 84.5): Quite possibly my favourite bet. They’re not going to give away 40 gimmies to their opponents next season, added a legitimate top-6 goal scorer, and based on past history will benefit from some better shootout luck. Why would they finish 4 points worse than last season, exactly?
  • Philadelphia Flyers (Under 90.5): They’ve lost their best defenseman from last season, and plan to replace him with a heavy dose of two players that were featured in an article titled “Wasting Money, NHL-style: Six players on the side“. How lucky do you really feel?
  • Dallas Stars (Over 92.5): As was discussed on the podcast in extensive detail a few weeks back, the Dallas Stars promise to be amongst the funnest teams in the league to watch. Their blueline is suspect, but they’ve got outstanding talent up front and strong goaltending to bail out the defense’s mistakes. A) They don’t need to really improve that much from last season to hit the over, and probably even more importantly B) this seems like an incredibly fun bet to root for.
  • Florida Panthers (Over 71.5): Much like the Islanders, the impact of replacing a cataclysmic goaltending situation with a reliable, above average one goes a long way. They made some highly questionable moves on July 1st giving away way too many dollars and years to suspect players, but the Jussi Jokinen signing should do wonders for what was easily the worst power play unit in the league last season. 
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (Over 94.5): .. aaand maybe even sprinkling a couple of bucks on them to win the Eastern Conference at 15/2? The Penguins are the Penguins and the Bruins are the Bruins, but both of those teams have their fair share of warts. I still don’t fully trust Ben Bishop but their group of skaters is equally deep and talented.
  • Ottawa Senators (Over 78.5): It’s somewhat ironic given the team that came before them on this list, but people don’t seem to be cognizant of the fact that Jason Spezza wasn’t all that good last season. They’ll miss his production on the power play, but they’ve also got a handful of young players that could rather reasonably elevate their play with expanded opportunity. Plus, their goaltending was surprisingly bad last year and figures to at least be marginally better. With all of that being said, their biggest selling point may very well be that line which seems like a byproduct of an overreaction to the disappointment that was last season more than anything else. [/Robin Lehner lets my family run free]
  • Edmonton Oilers (Under 80.5): Their point totals the last 62, 62, 74, 77 (pro-rated), 67. I was obviously a big fan of their summer (bringing in Fayne, Pouliot, Purcell, Big Corsi) but I’d like to see them actually live up to the offseason hype for once before buying in.
    • 916oiler

      That makes no sense. A bookie has to literally put his money where his mouth is. If he is wrong he LOSES MONEY. Scouts get paid the same, right or wrong.

      • The Last Big Bear

        That’s not how it works.

        The bookies don’t even need to know what a puck is.

        They don’t need to know the actual odds, and they don’t generally care.

        They set the odds so that the same amount of money is bet on each side. The winners pay off the losers, and the bookies make their money on the commission.

        You could make money running a book on cricket, without knowing the rules of cricket, as long as there are enough people betting. You just need to have the same amount of money riding on each side. Doesn’t matter who wins, you make your money on the commission.

      • silentbob

        Don’t the betters set the line?

        And what value is one pro-scout’s determination?

        I’ll take the average of what the 30 GMs and 30 head coaches set the line at.

    • vetinari

      Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but it kinda seems like they never upgraded their defence, so that could be a huge hole. Especially after the second line.

      • pkam

        They didn’t upgrade their defense, but their defense didn’t get worse neither. So how can the Stars not getting better by adding Spezza and Hemsky without losing any major roster players?

        Not saying they will be a cup contender, but only 1.5 pt improvement? These two players combined can put up about 140 pts. That is a big boost in secondary scoring.

        • silentbob

          Again, wishful thinking. I suppose it’s all relative to other teams. And sure they can put up points, but neither of those players are particularly defensive. Do you ever remember Hemsky back checking? This idea that the new NHL is a possession game, and I seem to remember Hemsky being easy to get off the puck. But again, wishful thinking as I’m just grasping at something other than jealousy when looking at the moves made by their GM.

          • But someone like Benn is due for regression, while a Lehtonen injury will devastate then. I am rooting for the Stars, but I don’t think they will improve as much as many people think.
            And Hemsky is actually pretty good defensively…

          • His PDO was over 103 last year due to career highs in both Oisv% and OiSH%. That doesn’t guarantee any regression but it makes it very likely. The oish% wasn’t crazy high or anything, but still high for a guy like Benn. I’d expect a 7-10% drop in offensive production from Benn this year. Same goes for his +/-. Or maybe he just became a better shooter and maybe he is the one guy who can truly affect his goalie’s sv%

      • 916oiler

        I understand the realist point of view, but what fun is that?

        Why not be positive and hope for solid improvement, while knowing in the back of your mind if we don’t do that well it’s not unexpected.

        We’re SUPPORTERS of this team, correct?

        If all everyone wants to do is bash the team and tell them they suck, what kind of fans are we?

        • Lofty

          Fans that actually make realistic predictions. If Buffalo fans don’t believe in making the playoffs this year does that make them bad fans? What kind of fans are we? Ones who expect 6million dollar players to figure it out and earn their paychecks

        • ummmmm,
          why do the fans always have to be SUPPORTERS?………..fans do not always have to support their team, especially when said team has missed the playoffs since ’07…….

          The majority of Oiler fans do not post comments on blog sites…..and the ones that do seem mostly to be angry……

          • 916oiler

            Quite frankly fans can be and do anything they dm well please; it’s called freedom. How you choose to use that freedom is up to you.

            If you call yourself a ‘fan’ of a certain team that means you ‘cheer’ and ‘hope’ for said team to do well and win games.

            What we need to ask ourselves as ‘fans’ is what can we do to help the teams we ‘cheer’ for win games?

            Being positive and not bashing the team. Constructive criticism is fine, but constant bashing isn’t going to do anything but bring the team down.

            From a player’s perspective, I’d sure as hall be motivated more by support – “I believe in our boys, go get em” – as opposed to negativity – “These guys will get another lottery pick, here we go again”.

            I am, and will always be, a diehard Oilers fan. To me, that means thinking positive and hoping for the best. Do I expect to win the cup this year? No. Playoffs? Maybe. I believe if things come together we have a shot. And I also believe that belief in, and support of, the team is going to do a whole lot more towards the team making the playoffs than a negative, dismissive point of view.

            My point? Don’t be a d!ck to the team you claim to love!

          • Serious Gord

            Garbage.

            I am a proud of alberta but that in no way should discourage me from being critical of the politicians who lead it.

            The same goes for sports teams and the oil.

            Demanding accountability and getting it is what drives teams and provinces and countries forward and fosters respect and support from those who live in or root for them.

            If people weren’t critical of the oil Lowe would still be GM…

          • 916oiler

            Garbage? How about reading comprehension.

            This has nothing to do with Lowe or leadership. That’s another discussion/blog entirely. This is about where the Oilers will finish in terms of points relative to the betting line, and optimism vs. pessimism about said finish.

            I don’t disagree that accountability drives teams to do better, it certainly does, but if no one believes in this team that’s just one more obstacle they need to overcome to succeed.

            As a player, what would you rather hear:

            “You suck, you suck, you suck”

            or

            “Brush that last one off, you can do it”

  • I expect:

    Toronto to do worse this year (not better)…
    Only one decent addition on the blue line. Loss of Raymond’s 19 goals and J.Mclement anchoring PK and 4th line….. And the stink of their overpaid $5.2 face puncher….

    Tampa to do better this year (Stamkos for a full year, another option on PP with defenseman added, strong forwards added and good youth movement)

    Winnipeg to do much worse than -3.5 (Unhappy Kane and Buff, coupled with bad goaltending, add lack of quality additions)

    Minnesota to do better than +0.5 (vanek and healthy goaltenders)

    Vancouver to be much of the same as last year (if not worse as their competition has gotten better)

    And Detroit to improve slightly as opposed to decreasing slightly…(they have some youth moving in the right direction and a rebound in decent goaltending)

    I don’t think the Flames will regress as bad as this article implies (unless there are significant injuries)

    Colorado won’t regress significantly either… Last year was an anomoly…but with Duchene fully healthy and Mckinnon ready to take next step, I think Iginla will have decent 25-30 goal season.

    And I don’t think NJ or STL regresses significantly either…

  • judgedrude

    Lowetide’s reasonable expectations give the Oil 226 goals, which given the goaltending and defense improvement should put us in at least Winnipeg’s spot last year….84 points. That’s an over!

  • Derzie

    Under the ‘fool me once…’ column, the bookies know that the inept SI writers will once again give preseason love to anyone they’ve heard at a draft table not knowing anything about winning hockey. It is the USA annual ‘my money’s on those young kids leading the Oilers because Gretzky played there and they know hockey’ love fest. The over/under project bettor behaviour, not actual results of hockey per se. The Oil are underachievers until proven otherwise. Lowe is still at the helm. Some moves have been sane lately so there is hope. Time will tell. Save your cash. Take the wife and kids to dinner instead.

  • silentbob

    Well, Calgary finished Ten points higher than the Oil did last season, so What miraculous moves did Edmonton make this summer to have a 20 point swing this year.

  • Serious Gord

    80.5 for the oil ties them for 25th with ARiz and and WPG. That’s about where i would put them – at 80pts just behind those other two teams.

    And given all of the potential IFs – more than any other team IMO – they would be the last team I would make a serious bet on – they could easily be 15 pts higher than that or 15 to 20 lower depending on what goes right for them and what goes wrong.

    That said, I would take the under – but just barely – of 0.5 pts.

  • beloch

    History has taught me that the Oilers are an exceptionally resourceful and creative organization that will always find new and interesting ways to grab lottery picks. I’ve got to go with under.

  • Off topic alert!! Um….in regards to nationgear….why are there no touques? ?!!? Winter is coming, no? We must be first in Alberta with headgear nationgear…cause we’re the north…hockey hockey…oileres oilers… (repeat for 8 months)

  • Chungus

    Late to the party, but is any one else surprised that anaheim dropped 11pts? No mention of them in the article. I would think they got better in the offseason with Kesler.

  • 916oiler

    Saw on Twitter today that Ryan Miller became a new father today. While it is nice and all (congrats to his family), it made me more selfishly think: There is no way this is good for the Canucks!

    Being very familiar with the impact of a baby in the house myself, I can say that,lack of sleep, stress, lack of “intimacy” from your partner to me do not = good goaltending.

    I know for most of these guys, their wives do most of the work, or more likely their nannys…but, there is no escaping parenthood – unless of course you are on a road trip!

    Would be interesting to know if:
    1) How many Canuck players have young children in their house? Is this higher than other teams?
    2) If there is a league wide correlation between number of young children in the household and performance of the individual player on the ice?

    *PS: I know obtaining this data is next to impossible.

    Am I the only Canuck fan who cringes every time I hear about one of the players becoming a father???