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2011/2012 NHL Northeast Division Gambling + Handicapping Preview

NHL Betting – Northeast Division Preview

Perhaps the most complete team in the NHL a year ago, the Boston Bruins proved they had the depth to overcome significant injuries that would have crippled other teams on their way to clinching a Stanley Cup.

With the majority of their core set to return, the Bruins will look to repeat in a Northeast Division that is expected to be improved overall.

Their toughest challenge in getting back to the top could come from their biggest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

On The Rise: Montreal Canadiens

It is easy to forget it now, but the Canadiens actually forced Boston to a seventh game in their opening round series, with the Bruins clinching three of their four wins in overtime.

That was without a healthy Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, and Max Pacioretty, and in addition to all three of those players expected to return healthy, Montreal also added winger Erik Cole to help bolster their scoring.

With a talented young nucleus that includes goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban looking to take another step forward, the Canadiens have the talent to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern conference if they can put it all together this year.

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On The Decline: Boston Bruins

The Ottawa Senators are in the midst of a rebuild, the Toronto Maple Leafs at least on paper appear to be stronger, and the Buffalo Sabres made a big splash in the offseason by landing defensemen Christian Erhoff and Robyn Regehr forward Ville Leino. [ad-4437448]

It is hard to conceive any of those three teams taking a step back this year, which leaves the Bruins as the likeliest team to take a hit this year. Tim Thomas was brilliant a year ago but is getting up there in terms of mileage, and with Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi moving on in the offseason,

Boston’s offense could take a hit if young Tyler Seguin does not fill that secondary scoring role as management has projected him to. The Bruins will attempt to prove they will not be burdened by a Stanley Cup hangover, but in a division that is expected to improve they could suffer the biggest hit of the five teams.

Projected Winner: Montreal Canadiens

The Maple Leafs and Sabres are both expected to take another step forward this season, but the problem for both franchises is that there are several other teams that have also improved on paper and will be battling them for the final few playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators are still at least a couple of years away from getting into the mix, which leaves the Canadiens chasing Boston at the top of the division.

There is every reason to believe that Montreal will be better this year if they can avoid the injuries that led to so much inconsistency a year ago. The Canadiens have addressed their lack of size up front with the addition of Cole and the development of Pacioretty, and they should be ready to pounce should the Bruins suffer any Stanley Cup hangover.

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