Only four teams in hockey have better odds to win the Stanley Cup than the Boston Bruins.
The B’s have a surefire Norris Trophy contender in Charlie McAvoy, return five of their top six forwards and feature a brand new 1-2 punch between the pipes with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.
That’s a solid starting point for a Bruins bunch that breezed past the Washington Capitals in the first round of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs before injuries to Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller and Tuukka Rask derailed the ride in Round 2 against the New York Islanders.
Rask is out of the picture — for now — and Miller retired in July, but bookmakers still believe Boston has the talent and depth to be one of the most complete teams in hockey.
“This is a team that’s going to win a lot of games this season,” Rampart Casino race and sports director Duane Colucci told NESN. “They’ll take advantage of teams like Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa and rack up a lot of points. The Bruins are definitely going to make the playoffs and they’ll be one of the top teams in the league.”
Stanley Cup title odds via DraftKings
Avalanche +475 ($100 wins $475)
Golden Knights +700
Maple Leafs +900
Bruins +1300 ($100 wins $1,300)
“It’s all about defense and goaltending for them,” Colucci analyzed. “They’ll succeed if those two things are in order, but I think they took a step back from last year’s net with Tuukka and (Jaroslav) Halak. You’ve got Ullmark and Swayman in net this year and both guys have something to prove. They’ll lean on McAvoy a lot for big minutes and there’s a lot to like with (Matt) Grzelcyk and Carlo.
“I love what their top six forwards bring to the table. There’s a lot of offensive firepower at the top and bringing back Taylor Hall was huge. And the acquisitions of (Tomas) Nosek, (Erik) Haula and (Nick) Foligno will be very relevant for depth purposes.
“The secondary scoring was really an issue in the postseason and those guys can all help. Boston had to play from behind a lot in that series against the New York Islanders, so Don Sweeney went out and got some good bottom-six guys to bolster the forward group.”
The Bruins are a prohibitive -600 favorite to make the postseason at multiple sportsbooks, which implies an 86% of probability. So barring a cluster of drastic injuries, they should easily reach the playoffs. For added context, Colucci’s book is offering a regular-season point total of O/U 104.5.
“I think that’s a little high,” he opined. “But we adjust those numbers according to the bets and the amount of money wagered. Boston is a very popular team. Look how many games they were favored last season. It felt like they were the favorite almost every night out.”
Colucci and I spoke last March when the Bruins had been favored in roughly 28 of their first 30 games. He explained how perception and money dictate a thing like that.
Also, Boston only faced seven other teams in the 2020-21 regular season due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. There were no southern Florida swings or long road trips to the West Coast or Canada. Those will return this season as the world inches a little closer towards relative normalcy.
“I love getting division play back,” Colucci said. “It was unique last year. Everybody was still gambling on it and our handle was really strong, but it’s nice to see the original formats coming back into play. Things seem a little uneven, though. The balance of strength is definitely with the Eastern Conference this year. There are a couple teams that are phenomenal.”
So there you have it, folks.
In the eyes of a Las Vegas bookmaker, the Bruins remain well-respected behind the counter because of a strong top six, reshaped bottom six, a young defensive stable with a potential superstar and a brand new goaltending tandem with something to prove.
We’ll find out real soon just how accurate that assessment is.