It took just six weeks and 22 games for the first NHL head coach firing of the season. Gerard Gallant, who led the Florida Panthers to a franchise-record 103 points and the Atlantic Division title a season ago, was relieved of his duties after a lackluster 11-10-1 start. The ax was dropped in brutal fashion as well. While on the team bus following Sunday night's 3-2 loss to Carolina, team officials had Gallant and his luggage summarily removed from the transport. News crews then caught the newly-fired Gallant, with all his gear, waiting to be picked up by a cab on the sidewalk. Ouch.
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Gallant was a popular figure in the Florida locker room, so it will be interesting to see the impact this move will have. It sure seems like a quick hook. Gallant was replaced by Tom Rowe, a former coach who moves down from the Panthers front office.
So, things are certainly heating up in the rink. Below is the Doc's Sports bi-weekly look at the hottest and coldest bets in the NHL. Note the records and units won/lost are for the two-week period ending Nov. 29.
Hottest NHL Bets
St. Louis Blues (6-1 +5.2 Units)
After a sluggish start to the season, these contenders for the Stanley Cup have finally gotten in gear. The Blues (13-10) recent run of success includes quality wins at Boston as a +115 underdog, at home against San Jose while even-money, and most recently a 4-3 win against the Stars on Sunday.
The special teams have helped lead the resurgent Blues. St. Louis ranks third in penalty kill (87.6 percent) and seventh on the power play (21.5 percent). Additionally, third-year goalie Jake Allen (11-3-3, 2.39 GAA, .911 SV%) has been solid between the pipes and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10 G, 13 A) ranks in the top five in scoring.
Next up for the Blues are three games at home. They face Tampa Bay on Thursday, Winnipeg on Saturday and Montreal next Tuesday.
Los Angeles Kings (5-1 +4.3 Units)
The Kings (12-10) followed up a four-game losing streak earlier this month by winning five straight, which includes an impressive 2-1 win over the Blackhawks on Friday.
The biggest story out of Los Angeles has been the play of goalie Peter Budaj. The 34-year-old veteran, who was toiling in the AHL and hadn't been a starting NHL goalie in more than a decade, was called up as a backup following an injury to All Star goalie Jonathan Quick in the season opener. Budaj has since gone from backup to the No. 1 net-minder and responded by going 12-6-1 with a 2.04 GAA and .917 save percentage.
Budaj's strong work in net has led the Kings to a 2.33 GAA, which is the eighth-best in the NHL.
The Kings next play San Jose at home on Wednesday, at Arizona on Thursday and then back home to face the Canadiens on Sunday.
Other hot NHL bets: Ottawa Senators (5-3, +3.5 Units)
Coldest NHL Bets
Edmonton Oilers (3-5, -4.3 Units)
This is a young and talented team that's been wholly too erratic this season. Most recently, the Oilers (12-12) were swept in a home-and-home by the last-place Arizona Coyotes. That is obviously unacceptable, but also likely a result of this team's immense youth. Conor McDavid, the 19-year-old captain and 2015 No. 1 pick, has been all that and a bag of chips for Edmonton. He's the team-leader in goals (11), assists (10) and plus-minus (+9).
With their talent, the Oilers are capable of getting hot at any moment. Look for this team to only get better as the season moves on. Next up for Edmonton is a trip to Winnipeg on Thursday followed by a return home to face the Ducks on Saturday and Minnesota on Sunday.
New Jersey Devils (2-6, -4.1 Units)
New Jersey's (10-12) hot start has been largely erased with five losses in their past six games, which includes a 3-2 loss at Winnipeg on Monday. These most recent results are probably more of the real Devils. This team lacks any top-shelf talent and isn't particularly good at anything. New Jersey ranks in the bottom half of the NHL in both scoring and goals allowed, and their power play has been particularly atrocious. The Devils have converted just 13.7 percent of man advantages this season.
The Devils have a tough stretch ahead, as well. They first hit the road to play the Blackhawks on Thursday and then the Nashville Predators on Saturday. After returning home for a winnable game against the Canucks next Tuesday, the Devils then play the Canadiens, Rangers, and the Blues twice. It's tough to find many wins against the group. It might be worth fading the Devils the next couple weeks.
Until next time, good luck.
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