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NHL: Season Update - Boston Bruins go marching on

The Boston Bruins have held first place in the NHL standings for almost the entirety of the NHL season and last week became the joint-second quickest team to reach 30 wins, doing so in 38 games, tying the 1945/46 Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins (31-4-4; 66 points) have their sights set on winning the Presidents' Trophy awarded to the best regular season team but face competition most notably from Carolina Hurricanes (25-8-7) who are nine points behind.

The prize for winning the Presidents' Trophy is home ice advantage throughout the playoffs which is much-coveted for both Boston and Carolina who failed to win on the road at all in last season's playoffs.

The Bruins were eliminated by the Hurricanes over seven games in the first round, losing all away games while Carolina made history by becoming the first NHL team to lose their first six road games in a single playoff campaign.

Their perfect 7-0 home record was ended in Game 7 of the second round by the New York Rangers who dumped the Hurricanes out and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.

Vegas Golden Knights (56 points) and Toronto Maple Leafs (55 points) are also in contention for the Presidents' Trophy.

Familiar Atlantic tale

As per three of the past four seasons, the Bruins, Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning make up the top three in the Atlantic Division.

Florida Panthers broke up the monopoly last season by winning the division, but they have fallen well behind this season and are nine points off the top three and find themselves in a battle for their playoff lives.

Along with Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators, the Panthers look set to have to rely on a Wild Card spot into the playoffs, but to deliver on their +140 odds to make the post-season they will need to catch the Metropolitan's Washington Capitals and New York Islanders who currently possess better records and hold the two Eastern Conference places.

Tight in the Metro

The Carolina Hurricanes have a four-point lead at the top of the Metropolitan Division and are -230 to win it for a fourth season in a row. But below them five sides are separated by just nine points making the division one of the most competitive in the league.

Including the two Wild Card slots, Carolina, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders are all currently in a position to qualify for the playoffs from the Metro Division with Penguins finding themselves on the outside after going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.

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Pittsburgh have qualified for the playoffs in 16 straight seasons and are -400 to find a way in again, but +310 to sensationally miss out.

The Devils have cooled from a red-hot start but remain high because of that. The Rangers have discovered some much-needed consistency but the big story is the form of the Washington Capitals who, despite severe injury problems, have gone 15-3-3 in their last 21 games.

Champions on the outside

Over in the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets continue to enjoy their new coach bounce with Peter DeBoer's Stars sitting first in the Central Division - +130 to win it - and one point ahead of Rick Bowness' Winnipeg Jets, who are +220 to finish top.

Third in the division are the Minnesota Wild which means the current Stanley Cup champions, Colorado Avalanche, find themselves outside a playoff position both in the Division and Wild Card rankings.

Only being a couple of points out, that will likely change as the Avalanche recover from a barrage of injuries to key players, including Captain Gabriel Landeskog and productive forward Valeri Nichushkin who have missed significant time this season.

The Avalanche are +575 to not make the playoffs which would be the fifth time in expansion era history that a champion has failed to make the post-season after winning the Stanley Cup.

Vegas to challenge

Currently sitting first in the Pacific Division and -200 to win it, the Golden Knights have quickly shown that missing out on the playoffs last season was a blip in their ruthless pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Though they have again had to deal with poor health, the Golden Knights have managed much better this season with the likes of rookie goalie Logan Thompson stepping up in the absence of regular number-one Robin Lehner.

Currently four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in second place, Vegas look set to have the opportunity to contend for the Stanley Cup again this season which they are +750 to win. They face tough competition, though, with the likes of Bruins +550, Avalanche +750 and Hurricanes +850 also expected to challenge.

The much-improved Seattle Kraken are third in the Pacific, in large part thanks to the form of 20-year-old Matty Beniers who has 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 38 games and is +200 to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year ahead of Vegas' Thompson who is +700.

Calgary Flames sit fourth in the Pacific and Edmonton Oilers in fifth, but each currently hold the Wild Card spots into the playoffs from the Western Division ahead of the Central's Nashville Predators and Avalanche.

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