The Florida Panthers (5-3-1) have a good opportunity to improve their road record as they head out west to start a four-game trip against Arizona Coyotes (2-4-1) and San Jose Sharks (3-8-0) on Wednesday and Friday.
The Panthers (+1100 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022/23) have begun the NHL season with a 3-0-1 home record but are 2-3-0 on the road.
Florida won the Presidents' Trophy last season with a franchise best 58-18-6 record (122 points). At home they were 34-7-0 and 24-11-6 on the road.
The Panthers were swept in the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the second-round stage and coach Andrew Brunette was replaced by long-time Winnipeg Jet Paul Maurice.
Florida also engaged in one of the biggest trades in many years over the summer by acquiring Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames in exchange for their top-scorer last season Jonathan Huberdeau and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar.
NHL: Worst ever starts to an NHL season
The 24-year-old Tkachuk has started well with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in nine games with leads the Panthers and is fifth best in the NHL.
The Panthers had a franchise record 58 shots in a 5-3 win over Ottawa Senators at home on Saturday and afterwards called for better consistency on the road which will be crucial if they are to close the five-point gap between themselves (second) and the Atlantic Division leaders Boston Bruins (8-1-0).
The Seattle Kraken also head out on the road this week after enjoying a 4-4-2 beginning to their second NHL season (.500 points percentage) which most recently included a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Seattle had a torrid inaugural campaign finishing 30th of the NHL's 32 teams with a 27-49-6 record (.366 points percentage) and they will have the chance to assess their progress against two teams expected to contend for the Stanley Cup, the Calgary Flames (+1000) on Wednesday and Minnesota Wild (+2200) on Thursday.
Kraken’s much-improved start has been helped by the goalscoring form of forwards Jaden Schwartz and Jared McCann who each have five goals in ten games and the additions of Stanley Cup Champion Andre Burakovsky and rookie Matty Beniers.
After signing a five-year contract with the Kraken in the off-season, Burakovsky has eight points (three goals, five assists) in ten games while Beniers, the second overall pick in 2021, has eight points (four goals, four assists) and is +350 to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to search for answers to their lacklustre start to the NHL season when they face the in-form Philadelphia Flyers on home ice on Thursday.
The Leafs began the season as fancied to win the Stanley Cup and end their record 55-year drought, but after going 4-4-2 and losing their last four games (0-2-2), their odds have dropped to +1150.
Toronto most recently gave up a two-goal lead to lose 4-3 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks who themselves were on a seven-game losing streak.
It was the Leafs’ third road game in four days which included a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Friday and 4-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
After the road trip, coach Sheldon Keefe welcomed the return home and opportunity to rest up before the Flyers (5-2-1) come to town.
Keefe, 42, has bemoaned the Leafs’ transition game and ability to get out of their defensive zone and in trying to better their 20th ranked offence (27 goals) has shuffled his forward lines and challenged his players to increase their urgency.
Pressure is mounting, and another defeat to the much-improved Flyers is unthinkable for a team who are +575 to reach the playoffs and must find answers quickly.
The Boston Bruins (+1000 to win the Stanley Cup) have won five straight and continue to set the early season pace in the NHL with an 8-1-0 record which is the best start in their franchise history. Vegas Golden Knights (+1200) tie them on 16 points but have played a game more.
This week the Bruins have chance to stamp their authority on two topsy-turvy Eastern Conference rivals from the Metropolitan Division.
On Wednesday, the Bruins travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins (+2800 to win the Stanley Cup) before they head to New York to face the Rangers (+1600).
Pittsburgh (4-4-1) have lost their last four games while the Rangers (5-3-2) after also losing four in a row have won their previous two.
The pair will need to cut out inconsistency and be at their very best if they are to de-rail the Bruins who lead the NHL with 39 and a +18 goal-differential.
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