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NHL Highs and Lows: Bruins, Golden Knights

Penguins, Blues Free-Falling

What a difference a week can make. A week ago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis led the way in the Who’s Hot list. Since then, both teams have lost four games in a row.

There have been no such issues for the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights, who are at the top of this week’s Who’s Hot list. The biggest surprise so far this season has to be the New Jersey Devils.

Brad Marchand #63 and David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand #63 and David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins | Maddie meyer/getty images/afp

When looking at the sportsbook, there are still four Eastern Conference teams with better odds to win the Stanley Cup than the 8-1 Bruins.

As this week’s list proves, there will be changes in the pecking order.

Let’s check the latest NHL picks, stats, injury reports, and NHL predictions. We’ve plenty of NHL expert picks for you to consider.

Top Five

1. Boston Bruins

The Bruins are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

Boston has won five games in a row since a defense took a night off in a 7-5 loss to Ottawa. The streak started with a shootout win against Anaheim and then an overtime win against Minnesota. Over the last three games, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 12-2.

David Pastrnak has four straight games with at least one goal and two points as he is challenging for the NHL scoring lead.

Winger Brad Marchand returned earlier than expected and had two goals and an assist in his season debut.

Already without No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy, now center David Krejci is dealing with an upper-body injury.

  • Championship odds: +1600

2. Vegas Golden Knights

Not only has Bruce Cassidy’s former team won five games in a row, but the former Bruins coach has helped Vegas to four consecutive victories.

Vegas has allowed 17 goals, the fewest in the NHL, and moved to the top of the Western Conference standings.

Goalies Logan Thompson and Adin Hill are a combined 8-2 with an 1.70 goals-against average. Defenseman Shea Theodore not only has two goals and five assists, but he also has a defensive rating of +11.

Jack Eichel already has four games with at least two points.

  • Championship odds: +2000

3. New Jersey Devils

All the top draft picks are starting to figure things out.

Former No. 1 overall selections Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes have combined for four goals and five assists during the three-game winning streak. The offensive star in the early going has been Jesper Bratt. He has points in every game and has four goals and 11 assists through the first nine games.

The defense has been rebuilt over the last two years with the acquisitions of veterans John Marino, Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Graves. Marino leads the Devils in time on ice during his first season with the Devils.

Another offseason acquisition, goalie Vitek Vanecek, has teamed with Mackenzie Blackwood to give New Jersey a formidable 1-2 combo between the pipes.

  • Championship odds: +7500
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils | Elsa/getty images/afp

4. Edmonton Oilers

Since being held scoreless in back-to-back games, four-time NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid has four goals and three assists over the last two games. Leon Draisaitl, who has recorded more than 100 points in three of the last four seasons, has two goals and six assists during Edmonton’s current four-game winning streak.

Backup goalie Stuart Skinner has won each of his last two starts, stopping 77 of 80 shots.

Six of the next seven games are against teams with winning records so things figure to get a little more challenging.

  • Championship odds: +1600

5. Calgary Flames

Calgary was supposed to struggle after Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk headed elsewhere. Even with a 3-2 loss to Edmonton in the last game, the Flames are off to a 5-2-0 start.

Calgary already has 16 points from defensemen with Rasmus Andersson leading the way with a goal and six assists.

Nazem Kadri, the big catch in free agency and the key member of Colorado’s Stanley Cup-winning team, had four goals and four assists in Calgary’s five victories.

The goaltending has been merely average with Jacob Markstrom and Daniel Vladar combining for a .901 save percentage.

  • Championship odds: +1000

Bottom Five

28. Pittsburgh Penguins

So much for the red-hot start by the Penguins. After going 4-0-1 in the first five games of the season and having the best goal differential in the NHL, Pittsburgh has dropped four games in a row.

Pittsburgh has scored one goal in each of the last three contests as the West Coast trip didn’t go particularly well with losses to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle.

The Penguins are seventh out of eight teams in the Metropolitan Division standings.

  • +1800 championship odds

29. St. Louis Blues

The Blues have a veteran group of defensemen that includes Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, Nick Leddy and Justin Faulk which makes the recent struggles all the more stunning.

The Blues allowed 13 goals in the last two games and have dropped four straight since a 3-0-0 start.

St. Louis is giving up 2.6 more shots on goal than it has taken and that needs to be fixed.

Something to consider for those who bet online: Four of St. Louis’ last six games against Western Conference teams have finished under the total.

  • Championship odds: +3000
Ryan O'Reilly of the St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues | Claus andersen/getty images/afp

30. Columbus Blue Jackets

Any thoughts that a 5-1 road win against the New York Rangers might turn things around, the Blue Jackets have been outscored 17-4 while dropping games to Arizona, Boston and New Jersey.

Elvis Merzlikins is just 2-4 with a goals-against average of 4.75 and save percentage of .864.

Losses don’t come more embarrassing than the 7-1 defeat to the Devils, when Columbus was outshot 53-21 despite only being on the penalty kill three times.

Only Anaheim has a worse goal differential than the Blue Jackets, the last-place team in the Eastern Conference.

  • Championship odds: +15000

31. Anaheim Ducks

A win over a Eastern Conference contender moves Anaheim out of the No. 32 spot.

Trevor Zegras has two goals including the game-winner in overtime while John Gibson had 33 saves in a 4-3 win over Toronto to snap a seven-game losing streak.

Anaheim has been outscored 38-20 and has struggled mightily on both the power play and the penalty kill.

A bright spot has been winger Troy Terry, who leads the Ducks with 10 points and is one of three skaters not to have a negative defensive rating.

When looking at the NHL betting odds, the Ducks are one of two teams to cover just once so far this season.

  • Championship odds: +12500

32. Arizona Coyotes

It is never a good sign when the top two scorers also happen to be a combined -17 through the first eight games.

Barrett Hayton, a top-five pick in 2018, not only has failed to record a point in the first eight games but he is also -8. Forward Nick Schmaltz is among the Arizona players currently sidelined.

Goalies Karel Vejmelka and Connor Ingram have a combined goals-against average of 5.20.

Arizona is being outshot 36.6 to 25.5 per game.

  • Championship odds: +50000

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