NHL betting: Three plus-money teams to miss the playoffs

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We're one week away from the start of the hockey season, and hope is abound for fans of most teams. Once the regular season begins, it'll become obvious some teams will fail to meet preseason expectations. Which teams currently projected to make the playoffs at BetMGM will fail to reach the postseason?

St. Louis Blues

The last team to win the Stanley Cup in a full, normal season was the St. Louis Blues in 2019. That team went on a miracle run late in the season to go from last place to champion. At this point, it seems like that championship run had some magic attached to it. 

Last season, the Blues finished 4th in the West Division and were then swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche. St. Louis made the playoffs because four teams from each division made the postseason, and they only needed to beat out the Arizona Coyotes and the three rebuilding California teams. 

The Blues ranked 26th in expected goal rate at 5-on-5 last season. They were the second worst team in the league in terms of high-danger chance share. They were bottom-ten in terms of shot attempt rate. This was a poor analytical team that survived due to a weak division.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 06: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues reacts after a goal during a 4-3 Los Angeles Kings overtime win at Staples Center on March 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues reacts after giving up a goal against the LA Kings in 2021. (Harry How/Getty Images)

While the Blues added some solid players in Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad, they did little to address their defense. Additionally, the Central Division will be much tougher than the division the Blues were in last season. Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Chicago all view themselves as playoff teams. 

I like the Blues to miss the playoffs at +115. This is a flawed team that could be exposed in a year where they play a complete schedule in a non-pushover division. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh won the East Division during the shortened 2021 season, but they'll have their work cut out for them this upcoming season.

The Penguins will be without Sidney Crosby to open the season, as he's expected to miss the first few weeks. Evgeni Malkin, their other franchise player, will be out for a few months to open the season. Pittsburgh also lost depth players such as Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev over the offseason. 

The main concern for Pittsburgh comes between the pipes. Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith were unspectacular during the regular season last year, but the Penguins were able to overcome the subpar goaltending. However, in the first round of the playoffs, Jarry was the main reason the Penguins were eliminated by the Islanders. 

My main reason for going with the Penguins to miss the playoffs is the +185 price. I consider Florida, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Boston as good bets to make the playoffs in the Atlantic Division. I'm willing to pencil Carolina and the Islanders in from the Metropolitan Division. That means two of: Pittsburgh, Washington, NY Rangers, Philadelphia and Montreal will miss. 

At +185, I think Pittsburgh has a real chance of missing the playoffs. I also would consider betting the Rangers to miss the playoffs at +150. They're a young, exciting team with room to grow, but their roster likely got worse over the offseason. 

Calgary Flames

Is there a more mediocre roster in the league than the Calgary Flames? Johnny Gaudreau is awesome and Matthew Tkachuk is a great player, but beyond those two, the forward group inspires little confidence. The defense is the weak point of the roster, and it got even weaker when they lost Mark Giordano in the expansion draft. 

The Flames paid Jacob Markstrom to be an elite goaltender, but he's been an average goaltender for most of his career. Will he regain his elite form from the 2018-19 season that got him paid? Or will he provide the average goaltending he has for most of his career?

Calgary's path to the playoffs is obvious. Every division must send at least three teams to the playoffs in the current NHL structure. Vegas is the clear favorite to win the Pacific Division, but the rest of the division is mediocre at best.

Edmonton is the only other team in this division to make the playoffs last season. If we pencil the Oilers back into the playoffs, it still means another team in this division will be a playoff team, The most likely contenders are the Flames, the Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks.

Personally, I prefer the Kraken to the Flames. I also think Vancouver has more potential than Calgary does if things go right for them. Therefore, I think there's value on the Flames to miss the playoffs at +110 on BetMGM.

Stats from NaturalStatTrick.com and NHL.com.

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