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A change of coach seems to have worked for several NHL teams
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NHL: Season update

The Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars all changed coaches in the off-season and each team has reaped the rewards, topping their respective divisions in the early going.

The Golden Knights hired Bruce Cassidy after he was let go by the Bruins and he was replaced by Jim Montgomery (formerly of the Stars).

To hire Cassidy, Vegas sacked Peter DeBoer and he was quickly snapped up by Dallas.

Vegas, 9/1 to win the Stanley Cup, have won seven games in a row and lead the entire NHL with an 11-2-0 record and 22 points.

Boston (19/2) are just behind with a 10-2-0 record and 20 points. Dallas (20/1) are 8-3-0 with 17 points, which ranks fifth of all NHL teams.

Devils soaring

The New Jersey Devils (9-3-0) are the fourth divisional leader, and their 18 points is third best in the NHL.

New Jersey lost the first two games of the season and with just one playoff appearance in ten years, pressure quickly began to mount on the long re-building franchise and in particular head coach Lindy Ruff.

Despite calls for the experienced coach to be fired General Manager Tom Fitzgerald refused to panic, and his confidence has paid off with the Devils winning their last six games and they are now 5/6 to reach the post-season for the first time in four years.

Most pleasing for Fitzgerald will be the performances of drafted forward trio Jesper Bratt, 24, (five goals, 12 assists), Nico Hischier, 23 (five goals, seven assists), and Jack Hughes, 21 (four goals, eight assists), who are expected to lead the organisation forward for many years to come.

Mixed start for Canadian contenders

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers were considered the most likely contenders from Canada, but each has had an inconsistent start.

Leafs (6-4-2) coach Sheldon Keefe has challenged his top players to find their best form and 60-goal scorer last season Auston Matthews responded on Saturday with two goals as Toronto beat the high-flying Bruins 2-1.

The victory will serve as a major confidence boost and quieten the noise around a team still growing into the season.

The Oilers have had no problem getting offence from their stars with Connor McDavid leading the NHL in points (25) and goals (12) and Leon Draisatil second for points (23).

Their 46 goals in 12 games ranks sixth in the NHL but their 25 conceded is 25th and is an area which requires major improvement.

Calgary lost their two top scorers in the off-season Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, but were boosted by the arrivals of Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.

The new-look Flames began the season on fire with wins over the reigning Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche, Oilers and Golden Knights, but they are currently on a four-game losing streak and left wondering if they two high profile departures were more damaging than first thought.

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Kraken showing improvement

The Seattle Kraken finished 30th in the NHL standings last season, their first in the league (27-49-6). The position was somewhat deceiving, though, as their underlying numbers deserved better.

Let down by poor goaltending, the Kraken added experienced Martin Jones from the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer and the 32-year-old has provided the stability needed for a big improvement in results.

Jones has recorded six of the Kraken’s seven wins (7-4-2) with a .901 save-percentage and 2.61 goals-against-average.

With 16 points, the Kraken are second in the Pacific Division and sixth in the overall NHL standings and are 12/5 to reach the playoffs.

Tampa heating up

After having their three-peat dream dashed by the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a sluggish beginning to the current campaign.

But with stars Nikita Kucherov (six goals, 14 points in 12 games) and Steven Stamkos (seven goals, six assists) leading the way, the Lightning have improved to 7-4-1 and look well set to deliver on their promise that they will bounce back from the disappointment.

With a 6-4-1 record, Colorado have shown their own signs of having a hangover from the cup final.

But, with two wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Finland at the NHL’s Global Series they have moved up to third in the Central Division and showed signs of returning to their championship best.

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