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The longer the NHL season goes on, the more we know about how teams match up against each other, and who is legit versus who the pretenders are. This Saturday features some matchups that should help us make some of those determinations, so let’s get into it.

Boston Bruins defeat Florida Panthers -125

The Panthers are by no means pretenders, they’re the hottest team in the NHL, and would be a great story if not for their head coach being implicated in covering the sexual assault of Kyle Beach in 2010, and then forced to resign from his job after meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday. 

The Panthers are now being headed up by former assistant coach Andrew Brunette, and haven’t missed a beat, but on the second half of a back-to-back against a team as strong as the Boston Bruins, it’s probably time for the winning streak to end.

At 3-3-0 so far this season, the Bruins don’t look that strong based on their record alone, but at 5-vs-5 they’ve controlled play to the tune of the third-best expected goals ratio in the league so far: 55.7 per cent. That hasn’t translated into actual goals yet, they’ve been outscored 15-12 at even strength, but the Bruins are very good, due, and more rested. 

Toronto Maple Leafs defeat Detroit Red Wings by 2+ goals -110

The Red Wings have been a tough team to beat this season, and the Maple Leafs have been working hard to disappoint their fans at every turn, but after finally busting their slump against the Blackhawks you have to think the Leafs might finally start getting it together.

In all situations this season, the Maple Leafs have been piling up scoring chances, and rate fourth-best in the league in expected goals per 60 minutes with 3.26, but have scored fewer than two goals per game at 1.98, the fourth-lowest level of offence in the league.

Eventually, the dam is going to burst and the Leafs’ stable of superstar forwards are going to start scoring like we all expect, and after some of the weight was lifted off their shoulders last game, taking advantage of a tired team on the second half of a back-to-back seems like the perfect time. 

Colorado Avalanche defeat Minnesota Wild -160

It hasn’t been the start that the Avalanche wanted, I doubt anyone expected Darcy Kuemper to be so rough to begin the year, but battling through an up and down game to end the St. Louis’ Blues undefeated start to the season might have gone a long way towards righting the ship and restoring confidence.

The Wild are no slouches. They’ve been excellent to start the year, and boast a 5-2-0 record. So far this season they’re simply a better team than the Colorado Avalanche have been by most metrics, but the Avalanche do have stronger control of high danger chances.

Kuemper starting to put his play back together should help a lot, and even if the process and the results favour Minnesota so far, the Avalanche have proven over multiple seasons that they’re as legitimate as it gets a contender. This one is more of a gut feeling than anything else, but I think the Avs are going to rise to the challenge against a divisional opponent who has outplayed them so far. 

Edmonton Oilers defeat Vancouver Canucks -140

Sometimes there are gut feelings, or teams you think are due for it based on the data, then there are just straight up mismatches.

The Vancouver Canucks have simply been terrible to start the season. They’ve managed to bank some wins despite it, but on the ice they’re an absolute mess. Elias Pettersson is playing the worst hockey of his career, and they’re running up against an Oilers team that’s on a roll.

You ever hear about that Connor McDavid guy? He’s on pace for a 205-point season, and he’s lead the Oilers to a 5-1-0 record. This isn’t the Oilers of the last few years where they outperformed their play because of McDavid and Draisaitl, so far they look for real.

In all situations, the Oilers lead the entire league in expected goals for percentage at a hair under 57 per cent, ahead of the undefeated Hurricanes and Panthers. And it’s not all offence either, they’re putting up solid offensive and defensive performances thus far.