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NHL: Season update - New Jersey Devils impress

The 2022/23 NHL season is a quarter-way through and here are some of the bigger stories from around the league.

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils have been the surprise pacesetters in the NHL and currently top the standings.

Devils and Bruins lead the way

New Jersey have made the playoffs just once in the past decade, but have used that time to re-build through the draft and after a patient wait, the signs are that the project is finally coming to fruition.

Led by the experienced Lindy Ruff - +200 to win the Jack Adams award as coach of the year - the Devils are 20-4-1 and their 41 points leads the league. Impressively, they are 11-1-0 away from home and are +350 to keep hold of top spot and win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in their history.

The Devils won the Stanley Cup three times between 1995 and 2003 and, with a young core of Jack Hughes, 21, Nico Hischier, 23, and Jesper Bratt, 24 leading the charge, the Devils faithful are full of belief that the good times are finally set to return to New Jersey - they are +1000 to win the Stanley Cup this season.

Under new coach Jim Montgomery, the Bruins have a 20-3-0 record and 40 points which is a league best .870 win-percentage.

Boston lead the league for goals-scored and have conceded the least, helping them tie the NHL record for fewest games to reach 20 wins. Their 14 straight wins at home is also a record for most consecutive victories on home ice to begin an NHL season.

Leafs buying into defence

The Toronto Maple Leafs had an inconsistent start to the season and pressure was beginning to rise on coach Sheldon Keefe and General Manager Kyle Dubas whose bold move to bring in Matt Murray as their number-one goalie was being heavily questioned.

Murray, 28, had a torrid two years at the Ottawa Senators, rarely featuring due to injury or poor form and when he was ruled out for four weeks following his Leafs' debut, scepticism only continued to rise.

His return, though, has signalled a significant upturn in form for Toronto with the former two-time Stanley Cup going 5-1-2 with a .921 save-percentage and 2.63 goals-against-average.

Toronto's jump to fourth in the overall standings and second in the competitive Atlantic Division (15-5-6) has been particularly impressive considering they are without several key defenceman including Morgan Reilly, T.J. Brodie, Jordie Benn and Jake Muzzin.

A traditionally offensively strong team, the depleted Leafs have been forced to buy in to the defensive side of the game and it has paid dividends with many believing it will also help them in their cause to end an all-time record long 55-year wait for a Stanley Cup.

Rookie Beniers inspiring Kraken

Twenty-year-old rookie Matty Beniers has inspired the NHL's newest franchise Seattle Kraken to a much-improved start after a disappointing inaugural season.

Beniers, a second-overall pick in the 2021 draft, leads all rookies for points with 21 (ten goals, 11 assists in 24 games) and is +175 to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

The exciting centreman sits second on the Kraken for points behind Andre Burakovsky (25; nine goals, 16 assists) who has also made a significant difference after being signed from reigning Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche in the off-season.

The Kraken finished 30th in the standings in their first season in the league but with a 15-6-3 record are riding high in the overall standings (fifth) and second in the Pacific Division behind Vegas Golden Knights.

They are -210 to reach the playoffs for the first time and +2200 to win the Stanley Cup.

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Inconsistent middle pack

Several teams in the middle of the NHL pack are still searching for better consistency and in cases like the Florida Panthers (12-9-4) and Calgary Flames (11-10-3) a better idea of their new identity after much change in the off-season.

The Edmonton Oilers are among these teams who despite having the league's top point scorer Connor McDavid (47; 21 goals, 26 assists) are 13th overall in the standings with a 14-11-0 record (.560 points-percentage) and conceding far too many (90; 27th most in the NHL) and have a -3-goal differential.

The New York Rangers (11-10-5), Minnesota Wild (12-9-2), St. Louis Blues (11-13-0) and especially the Ottawa Senators (10-13-1) are further sides who expected to be higher up the standings at this point.

New coach bounce

Two teams not suffering such a problem are the Dallas Stars (14-6-4) and Winnipeg Jets (14-7-1), who have each enjoyed the influence of a new head coach in Peter DeBoer and Rick Bowness respectively.

The Stars and Jets are battling for top spot in the Central Division, ahead of the Avalanche who despite some serious injury issues have shown their championship metal to stay close in third.

Defenceman Josh Morrissey (25 points) and goalie Connor Hellebuyck (.931 save-percentage) have been particularly impressive for the well-structured Jets, with Morrissey while the big story in Dallas is the goal-scoring form of 23-year-old Jason Robertson.

With 22 goals in 24 games, the thrilling winger leads the NHL for goals and is +275 to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal-scorer.

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