The NHL regular season comes to a close in less than three weeks and division titles remain up for grabs in three of the four races on the board. With most teams hitting the 70-game mark of an 82-game schedule, every game from here on out can have an impact on the actual outcome of each race.

The NHL futures odds for all three races at Intertops online sportsbook have identified a clear favorite to win the Metro, Central, and Pacific Division title. However, that is not necessarily the best betting value on the board.

The Metro Division Title Race

The Washington Capitals’ late-season surge gives them the best odds on the board to win the Metro Division at -118. The small gap in points still leaves both the New York Islanders as +250 second-favorites and the Pittsburgh Penguins as +500 third-favorites in striking distance. You could even consider the Carolina Hurricanes as a viable longshot at +650 betting odds.

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The Capitals are looking to lock-up their third-straight division title after last year’s run all the way to the Stanley Cup title. Given the way this team has been playing over the past month or so, Washington could be tough to beat. However, Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh narrowed the gap with the Penguins to just four points. New York is just two points back with three wins in their last four games.

Given just how tight this race is right now, I am going with the added value in Pittsburgh at +500 odds to win. The Penguins are starting to heat up with five victories in their last six games. Another big factor is that Tuesday’s win against the Capitals gives Pittsburgh the 3-1 edge in the season series as a potential tiebreaker.

The Central Division Title Race

The Central is a two-team race with the Winnipeg Jets a -111 favorite to win the title over the Nashville Predators as +135 second-favorites. The first-place Jets have dropped three of their last four games, but Nashville has not done itself any favors with four losses in its last six games. Heading into Thursday night’s action, only one point separates the two teams in the standings.

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The Jets hold the 2-1 edge in the season series with the fourth and final meeting set for March 23 in Winnipeg. Each team has seven home games and six road games left to play. Given that just one point separates the two, I am going with the better value in Nashville’s +135 odds in this race. 

I also like the fact that the Predators have been getting some better play on the defensive end of the ice. They are now fifth in the league with a goals-against average of 2.69. The Jets have had their issues lately against the better teams they have faced. In recent losses to Tampa Bay, Washington, and San Jose, they have allowed a combined 13 goals.

The Pacific Division Title Race

In another two-team race, the San Jose Sharks has surged ahead of the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division by one point on the strength of a current six-game winning streak. The Flames snapped a recent four-game skid with back-to-back victories at home against Vegas and New Jersey.

Check out the NHL game previews and predictions

The betting odds now favor San Jose to win the division at -118 with Calgary a very close second at -111. The Sharks have the 2-1 edge in the season series with the teams meeting one last time in San Jose on March 31. Current playing form definitely favors the Sharks in this race as does the existing edge in head-to-head play. You have to give Calgary all the credit in the world for such a dramatic turnaround from last season’s fifth-place finish out of the playoffs in the Pacific Division. Unfortunately for the Flames, reality is starting to set in.

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