Live on ESPN America: Thu 16.00: Minnesota and Carolina face off on Thursday to kick-start the eagerly awaited 10/11 season.
The 2010/11 NHL season gets underway on Thursday in Helsinki as Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes kick off proceedings.
Defending champions, Chicago Blackhawks, are 8/1 with Stan James to retain their title and will raise the Stanley Cup championship banner to the United Center. The Blackhawks are 888sport’s 10/3 favs to win the Western Conference, something they did not achieve last season, and will have to be wary of the reasonably priced Detroit Red Wings, at 6/1 (Betfred).
Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are the two teams battling out for outright favouratism though. Just ahead of the Blackhawks, the Capitals can be backed at 13/2 with Blue Square and the Penguins, surely many punter’s fancy for the season, are available at 7/1 (Boylesports). The Penguins have moved to a new stadium for the 10/11 season and will be aiming for higher than the conference semi finals of last year, which came as something of a let down following the 08/09 Stanley Cup victory.
Finally, one team never to be under estimated are the Detroit Red Wings. 09/10 was a bitter disappointment for the fans as the Red Wings failed to win the Central Division for the 1st time in 9 seasons and Totesport have 13/8 about them to get it back this year. The trouble is, the Chicago Blackhawks stand in the way of their ambitions but, crucially, the Red Wings have lost no major players in the off-season. Whilst they will have a fight on their hands for the division and the conference (6/1 Betfred), they should not be ignored at 12/1 with Ladbrokes for the Stanley Cup.