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Jan 8, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his second goal with teammates during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Much like life itself, hockey is a game of ebbs and flows. Some weeks you’re the butcher, some weeks you’re the slab of meat on the table. Every week, we’ll examine one NHL team that falls into each category. And because we live in a “What have you done for me lately?” kind of world, we’re really leaning into recency bias and doing our best to overreact to the recent trends.

As such, here are the best and worst teams in the world this week.

Best team in the world this week: Boston Bruins

Well, well, well … here we are again. If you’re someone who has been waiting for the Bruins to come crashing back down to earth — or even slowing the torrid pace with which they started the season — you’re probably getting pretty impatient by now. Forty games deep with the All-Star break approaching, Boston still has single-digit losses (four regulation plus four overtime defeats) and is on pace to not only have one of the most prolific 82-game campaigns in league history but also the single best 82-game campaign in league history.

But since we focus on the micro and not the macro in this space, let’s take a look at what the Bruins have done of late.

Boston has points in its last 14 games and have won four straight, including a three-game California sweep in which it outscored the opposition 16-4. During that West Coast road trip, David Pastrnak was the clear standout with multi-goal games in all three contests, including a hat trick (the 13th of his career) against the Anaheim Ducks. The seven goals he registered in California pushed him to 32 on the season, making Connor McDavid (33) the only player in the NHL with more goals.

Bruins coach Jim Montgomery alluded to this recently: The one area of Pastrnak’s game that has been really impressive recently is his off-puck movement and ability to find space to open up passing lanes and create scoring opportunities for himself. We all know what he can do with the puck on his stick. He’s now getting better at being slippery off the puck and making defenses lose track of him.

Pastrnak is on pace for 66 goals, which would make him only the second player in franchise history to reach the 60-goal mark. (Phil Esposito did it four times in the 1970s.) It would also make him an extremely rich man, as the 26-year-old is in a contract year and ready to cash in on a new deal. That has to be making Boston fans increasingly uncomfortable at this point, as each Pasta tally is likely driving up his asking price.

I’m still pretty confident the Bruins get an extension done — both sides have remained active in discussions — but from a pure business sense, you have to wonder why Pastrnak (or his agent) would even want to put pen to paper before this season ends with the way things are going.

In any case, that contract-year magic is one hell of a drug, and Pastrnak, who is currently on one of the most team-friendly deals in the entire NHL, is going to get a much-deserved bag in the near future. Meanwhile, the Boston front office might regret not reaching a long-term agreement before the season, but the contributions are much-appreciated, especially as the team puts together a “Last Dance” type of run with a veteran core.

One topic that has been on my mind lately with regards to the Bruins: Which player on the roster has most exceeded expectations this season? As wild as it seems given his already sky-high expectations, Pastrnak is certainly on the list. However, there are so many others that could receive consideration as well.

Linus Ullmark is putting together a Vezina-caliber season. Hampus Lindholm has been a dynamic two-way monster and was incredibly valuable during Charlie McAvoy’s absence (as was Connor Clifton). Nick Foligno was brutal (albeit injured) last season and went from the waiver wire to an integral bottom-six leader. Jake DeBrusk left the trade block and was working on a career year before his injury in the Winter Classic. Trent Frederic has taken a huge step in the bottom six. Derek Forbort won’t jump off a page but has become a massive stabilizer on the back end for a top-ranked penalty kill.

Hell, even David Krejci should earn a few votes with the way he’s unlocked the second line after a year away from the NHL.

It’s an interesting discussion, but there’s no question that everything seems to be coming together at the right time. And the results are undeniable. Boston is more than 10 points clear of everyone else in the standings, and the team goal differential — plus-68 — is double the second-best team in that department (Dallas at plus-34).

Best team in the world this week and this season.

Worst team in the world this week: Arizona Coyotes

To their credit, it’s been a while since we’ve seen the Coyotes in this spot, and that’s admirable considering they were projected to be the worst team in the league this season. However, it’s been a tough stretch of late, as Phoenix has lost five in a row and been outscored 9-22 during that stretch. Two of those losses came against the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers — two fellow bottom-feeders — and another came against a Pittsburgh Penguins team in the midst of a six-game losing streak.

Simply put, the Coyotes can’t beat anyone right now. That’ll land you here.

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