Home to the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Stanley Cup champions, the Metropolitan Division is up next in this four-part series, in which I dive deep into the NHL schedule to identify the best spot to bet against every team this season.
Date: Oct. 18, at Anaheim; March 29, at New Jersey
Sometimes it's hard to pick just one. The Carolina Hurricanes face a grueling stretch to open the season, with an early three-game West Coast trip culminating in a visit to Anaheim in what will be their fifth contest in eight days, including two back-to-backs. In March, the Canes will play a Sunday matinee in New Jersey the day after hosting Pittsburgh, which will mark their 14th game in 23 days and the second leg of their fourth back-to-back of the month. Also, they have to find a way to get motivated in front of a humdrum afternoon crowd. Although they're used to quiet arenas, so maybe that won't be an issue.
Date: Feb. 1, at Buffalo
The Columbus Blue Jackets will likely be searching for their legs when they return from nine days off, including the All-Star break, at the start of February. Having to get motivated for a matinee in Buffalo after that much time off is an especially tough ask. It'll be the Sabres' third game back after the All-Star break, so they'll have their legs. The game also falls in the middle of a five-game homestand for the Sabres, with no back-to-backs, meaning fatigue won't be an issue for them.
Date: March 7, at NY Rangers
How much will the New Jersey Devils have left in the tank when they visit Madison Square Garden on the first Saturday of March? It'll be their fifth game in eight days, and the finale of their second back-to-back of the week - the first of which comes in the midst of a West Coast trip. In the nine days leading up to their game in MSG, they play in San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Vegas before returning home to take on the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues the night before.
Date: Dec. 27, at Chicago
Only four teams in the NHL have fewer back-to-backs than the New York Islanders this season, but the amount of rest they have leading up to their matchup in Chicago - the Robin Lehner revenge game, as I like to call it - should prove distracting. The players have the unenviable task of leaving their families the day after Christmas, and won't return until late on New Year's Eve. Where will their heads be at during that stretch? We know where Lehner's will be. He's not about to lose to the team who wouldn't pay him after a Vezina-worthy season.
Date: Feb. 28, at Philadelphia
From Jan. 5 to Feb. 10, the New York Rangers have just three road games, with one of them at Long Island against the Islanders. They better make the most of it. Eight of their next 10 games will be on the road, with the last of that stretch coming on the final day in February in Philadelphia after playing in Montreal the previous night. It'll be the Rangers' second back-to-back in a week, and their fifth game in eight nights, four of which are away from home.
Date: Jan. 8, vs. Washington
The Philadelphia Flyers play a joint-worst 17 back-to-backs this season and have some brutally congested spells in their schedule. With lots of travel and little rest, there'll be a number of spots to fade them, but one jumps out in particular. The Flyers jet out west for a lengthy California road trip right after Christmas and will spend New Year's Eve in Los Angeles - if only we could all be so lucky. Then they'll fly to Vegas for more
partying hockey, Arizona for golf, and finally Carolina, before hosting the Washington Capitals on a back-to-back the next night, in what will be their first home date after a six-game, 12-night road trip. Caps -500.
Date: March 25, at Chicago
The NHL must really hate Pennsylvania. Along with the Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only other team to have 17 back-to-backs this season. Three of them come in a 19-day span in March, culminating in a trip to Chicago for their 13th game of the month, where they will take on a Blackhawks team they've lost 10 in a row against (probably 11 by the time this contest comes around).
Date: Oct. 25, at Vancouver
The Washington Capitals better hit the ground running, because they play a lot of hockey over the first month of the season. They have two days rest just once between their first game of the year Oct. 2 and their trip to Vancouver. That game at Rogers Arena is the second of a back-to-back on the West Coast against an underrated Canucks team, Washington's seventh contest in 12 nights, and the team's 13th in 24 days to start the season. The Capitals were 3-7 on the road last season in the second game of a back-to-back.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.