This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
So, with Bruce Cassidy now going 2-0 with the Bruins, that brings the total record of all the new head coaches hired in 2017 – which also includes Mike Yeo and Doug Weight – to an astonishing 13-2-2. Most impressive has been Weight, who has remained non-committal about his future as a head coach even though he's had the most success so far, and in just two weeks has really reversed the fortunes of the New York Islanders.
They played hard for Jack Capuano, but Hall of Fame-caliber coaches Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien had set the bar very high for their respective teams, and so when the Blues and Bruins started to string together a few wins, it didn't seem all that surprising. The two teams, after all, were underperforming but still in the midst of a playoff race.
The Islanders, however, were waved off as the Islanders doing Islanders things yet again, upon news that their relationship with Brooklyn is heading toward a rather nasty split. They were again the third-most relevant team in the state of New York, a team without a permanent home that has never regained the relevance it once had during the era of Mike Bossy and Billy Smith. John Tavares was (again) carrying the team, and the cadre of young players who were expected to take that next step haven't really done so.
The Blues still remain the favorites to advance furthest into the playoffs between the three, but Weight's wins have been very impressive, claiming the Kings, Blue Jackets, Candiens and Capitals as some of their victims. It seems so improbable for the Isles to go on a deep playoff run, but that's what they said about Dan Bylsma when he took over the Penguins, and it would be quite something to see the Isles succeed just as everyone – including the owners of their current home arena – have written them off.
Red Wings (PP: 30, PK: 16) at Wild (PP: 13, PK: 11), 3:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jared Coreau (5-2-3, 3.01, .901), Devan Dubnyk (30-9-3, 1.96, .934)
Key Injuries:Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), Jimmy Howard (knee), Thomas Vanek (ankle), Victor Bartley (triceps), Jonas Brodin (finger)
Do the Red Wings actually have a chance here? Bruce Boudreau's Wild are arguably the best team in the Western Conference while Detroit recently announced Ericsson will be out for the rest of the season. Even based on goaltending alone, Dubnyk has been a front-runner for the Vezina all season, while Coreau has done an admirable job trying to keep Detroit in games. The season is still salvageable for the last-place Wings, who are just seven points out of a playoff spot in a tight Eastern Conference, but their minus-25 goal differential and league-worst penalty kill will make things particularly difficult. Zach Parise has been on a roll with three goals in six games.
Stars (PP: 20, PK: 30) at Predators (PP: 17, PK: 10), 6:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Antti Niemi (10-8-4, 3.20, .901), Juuse Saros (5-4-2, 2.00, .935)
Key Injuries:Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jason Spezza (undisclosed), Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Harry Zolnierczyk (undisclosed)
A win for Dallas puts them four points behind Nashville in the Central Division, and a win for Nashville pulls them within just one of third-place St. Louis and gives themselves a little more separation from the rest of the pack. Between Niemi and Kari Lehtonen's combined 66 appearances, they have just 22 wins and one shutout, which means there are opportunities aplenty for underperforming snipers Filip Forsberg and James Neal to find the back of the net. As usual, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin will carry the Stars offense, but they need some secondary scoring to pull off a win. Hemsky and Janmark have been out of the lineup for most of the season, and Spezza is looking like he'll be missing his fifth straight game.
Canadiens (PP: 5, PK: 22) at Bruins (PP: 14, PK: 2), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Carey Price (24-13-5, 2.42, .918), Tuukka Rask (26-13-4, 2.32, .910)
Key Injuries:Austin Czarnik (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (hand)
The Habs opted to rest Price against St. Louis, which resulted in a loss, but Michel Therrien was likely just playing the numbers with Price sporting a career 24-8-4 record and a .924 save percentage against their historic rival. At some point, Brad Marchand's going to get called for his dangerous and idiotic slew foots, and even though the Bruins don't allow many shots and have one of the league's best penalty kills, the Habs also have a dangerous power play and Shea Weber is due for a goal soon. The Bruins defense hasn't really improved under Bruce Cassidy – though it has been just two games – and Alex Galchenyuk scored in his fifth game back from injury, indicating that he's close to full strength.
Sharks (PP: 19, PK: 18) at Devils (PP: 24, PK: 14), 12:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Martin Jones (27-15-4, 2.30, .915), Cory Schneider (17-15-8, 2.66, .912)
Key Injuries:Beau Bennett (lower body), Jon Merrill (upper body), John Moore (concussion), Kyle Quincey (upper body), Logan Couture (upper body), Dylan DeMelo (wrist), Joonas Donskoi (upper body)
The Sharks have lost four straight games, two in overtime and one in a shootout, and have seen their lead in the Pacific Division shrink to just three points. The marsh will be the last spot in their four-game road trip, and it's imperative that they come home with at least one win in their pocket. Their upcoming schedule isn't particularly difficult with dates against Arizona and Vancouver (twice) coming up, but if they're starting to feel tired, now really isn't the best time. On the other hand, the Devils have won three of their past four and seem to have no trouble scoring, with Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac all playing very well.
Avalanche (PP: 29, PK: 24) at Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 15), 6:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jeremy Smith, Jean-Francois Berube (1-2-2, 3.27, .896)
Key Injuries:Tyson Barrie (lower body), Rene Bourque (lower body), Erik Johnson (leg), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Travis Hamonic (knee)
John Tavares should be able to feast on the Avalanche considering the tear he's been on in 2017, while Jeremy Smith is set to make his NHL debut 10 years after being drafted in the second round by Nashville. That tells you the kind of season Colorado is having, while the Islanders seem to have found new life under Doug Weight and sit just three points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot. Goaltending has been an issue for them, and while they've settled on Thomas Greiss as their new No. 1, he's never been in this position before and will need some help relieving the pressure. Berube's performance in this game will be key in his evaluation, because if he can't beat the league's worst team, how helpful can he really be to the team down the stretch?
Canucks (PP: 27, PK: 25) at Sabres (PP: 1, PK: 29), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jacob Markstrom (9-10-3, 2.59, .913), Anders Nilsson (9-7-4, 2.67, .922)
Key Injuries:Zach Bogosian (abdomen), William Carrier (knee), Cody Franson (foot), Zemgus Girgensons (abdomen), Johan Larsson (wrist), Sven Baertschi (concussion), Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Anton Rodin (knee)
The Sabres have alternated wins and losses in their past six games, and the only real conclusion that can be drawn from that is we still don't know what kind of team they really are. Their blue line is banged up but shouldn't have problems containing Vancouver's offense, which may not get many opportunities anyway against a faster, younger and more explosive Sabres offense that can really pin opponents in their own zone. Jack Eichel has a goal and five assists in his past three games and Ryan O'Reilly has two goals and three assists in his past six games. The saving grace for Vancouver is that they're a team with lots of veteran experience and Markstrom has generally been very good for them this year, but it's also worth noting that Nilsson has been nearly unbeatable at the FNC with a 7-1-1 record and a .941 save percentage.
Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NAS – He's a terrific high-volume shooter who's helped picked up the offensive pieces with Forsberg and Neal having down years, and not only has he been getting quality ice time on a regular basis, he's also on a roll with five goals and two assists in past five games. His 169 shots rank 20th in the league, which makes him valuable even in shallow leagues. He's owned in just over 40 percent of Yahoo leagues.