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NHL weekly betting report

NHL weekly betting report

NHL weekly betting report: Bruins are no fluke

Big bad Bruins

Two short seasons ago, Boston was the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference. In the Northeast Division they were both last and irrelevant. It’s amazing how quickly things have changed.

This season, only San Jose has more points than the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Claude Julien’s club just finished off an 11-1-1 November run. It was clear to see that Boston was moving forward, but no one could have predicted these results.

No team allows fewer goals per game and only three score more per game.

GM Peter Chiarelly knew that Boston couldn't play defense and that they couldn't scare anyone physically. He picked two key free agents to build around that would provide the kind of play he wanted: massive defenseman Zdeno Chara and natural scorer Marc Savard.

Through astute trades he robbed teams of players who have become central to his team’s success: goalie Manny Fernandez from Minnesota, Aaron Ward from the Rangers and defenseman Andrew Ference from Calgary.

Ference isn't flashy, but I can't watch a Flames game without commenting at least three times on how much Calgary misses his conscientious, disciplined and near flawless play in his own zone.

On top of that, Chiarelli had some luck.

Patrice Bergeron emerged into an elite player. Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic were drafted just before Chiarelli arrived and both are big contributors.

The Bruins are no fluke.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Five seasons ago, Paul Maurice was fired as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. He was the only coach the team had since leaving Hartford but was replaced by Peter Laviolette. Laviolette won a Cup and went on to become the winningest U.S. born coach in NHL history.

Everything wasn't rosy, though - the year the team won it all was the only one of four full seasons under Laviolette in which the Hurricanes made the playoffs. They hadn't been terrible, but they weren't good enough, either.

This year they were barely clinging to the eighth and final spot and weren't looking great. A change probably needed to be made and this week it was.

Maurice was available because he had been fired in Toronto after a dismal season. He remained good friends with both the owner and GM, so on some level it makes some of sense.

He's also been out of town for long enough that most of the Canes’ roster hasn't played for him before. So far, Maurice hasn't lit the world on fire - he is 1-1-1 since taking over.

The overriding issue is whether the coach was the problem. Was Laviolette holding the team back or was this just an eighth-place team with seventh-place talent?

Key Injuries

After already missing 15 games with groin and abdominal woes this year, Daniel Briere will be out of the Philadelphia lineup for four or five weeks with a severe groin strain. Briere had been averaging a point a game in his nine games. The Atlantic Division is wide open for the taking, so this comes at a very bad time for the Flyers.

Joe Sakic's injury may be the final straw for a team in Colorado that is quickly losing hope. The Av's 39-year-old captain is out for at least six weeks with a herniated disc. He almost didn't return this season after missing 38 games last year thanks to a hernia.

Sean Avery

I don't want to spend too much time dwelling on the Avery situation, but I do have to ask one question - am I missing something? Avery made an off-color, but essentially PG statement about a former girlfriend.

He didn't mention anyone by name and a lot of casual fans would have had no idea what he was talking about until it was explained in the media a million times. He didn't say anything that you can't hear a few times a day on TV or in movies and he didn't say anything slanderous, libelous, racially motivated, or illegal.

His crime was being a classless, bitter ex and a moron. Period. And yet he gets six games and he may get dumped by Dallas.

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