NHL Off the Post: December 31st

by Sean Murphy

Saturday, Dec 31, 2022
As we get ready to ring in the New Year, Sean takes a quick look around the NHL at some news and notes that you can use in your daily handicapping.

Consistency counts

The Boston Bruins head into 2023 staking claim as the best team in the NHL and they've done it with alarming consistency this season. As we flip the calendar page over to 2023 we'll note that the B's have yet to lose consecutive games this season. They avoided that fate again earlier this week as they followed up a 3-2 loss in Ottawa with a 3-1 victory over the Devils the next night in Newark. Of note, Boston will play on back-to-back nights on three different occasions in January. Up next is the Winter Classic showdown with Pittsburgh at Fenway Park on Monday.

Crown them

The Los Angeles Kings have proven to be one of the more underrated teams in the league so far this season and they'll have a chance to head into January winners of seven of their last eight games with a winnable home game against the Flyers on tap on New Year's Eve. With seven of their next eight games coming at home, where they've gone 11-7 so far this season, the Kings have plenty of room to run as they look to ascend the Pacific Division rankings in January.

Oil rush

In less than surprising news, the Edmonton Oilers have been one of the best 'over' bets in the league this season and certainly of late as they've seen seven of their last eight and 16 of their last 20 games sail 'over' the total. That's despite the fact that they've been held to three goals or less in five of their last seven contests. If Friday's seven-goal outburst in Seattle (without Leon Draisaitl) is any indication, this might only be the beginning and it's surely only a matter of time before we see a return to those '7's that were popping up in Oiler games earlier in the season.

Shooting Stars

The Dallas Stars haven't dropped consecutive games since December 4th and 6th, going on an 8-3 tear over their last 11 contests. While they've been finding the back of the net on a regular basis, I've been more impressed by their defensive play, allowing two goals or less in eight of their last 10 games and giving up an average of just 2.8 goals per game on the season. Not surprisingly, the 'under' has gone 7-2-1 in Dallas last 10 games overall. Next up is a home game against the reeling Sharks on New Year's Eve before the Stars hit the road for a quick two-game jaunt to California (to face the Kings and Ducks).

Fanning the Flames

While it's still too early to declare a winner in the Tkachuk-Huberdeau blockbuster trade from the Summer, the case can be made that both the Panthers and Flames have been worse off since that deal. While Calgary has won four of its last six games, it still owns a less than impressive 17-13-7 record on the season and you would have to go back five games to find the last time the Flames scored more than three goals. After hosting Vancouver on New Year's Eve Calgary will play six of its next seven games on the road. Perhaps that's not a bad thing as the Flames have managed to win four of their last five away from home. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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