What is the best way to respond to a week where a team goes 0-2-1? Easy. Win all of the games in the following week. The New Jersey Devils did exactly that and avoided slipping in the Atlantic Division altogether. What's more is that the Pittsburgh Penguins was the only other team to put up a winning record in the last week. Given that all of the teams not named the Devils played one more game than the Devils in this past week, the result is a wonderful gap in the standings between New Jersey and the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders.
This is further evidence of doing this weekly snapshot. Sure, an 8 point lead over the Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders isn't insurmountable. Especially by the end of November. But this allows both the Devils and Penguins some considerably breathing room. It means they don't need to keep running off big winning streaks to stay ahead of the pack (though I wouldn't complain if the Devils did just that). Moreso than the Devils because they have games in hand over everyone except for Philadelphia. Should all five teams play generally about the same, the Devils and Penguins will still be on top with the Flyer, Ranger, and Islander faithful all gnashing their teeth in frustration over the standings.
|Team||Potential Pts.||Last Week||Conf. Pos.|
While it's still fairly early, already a little slip up during a week could lead to a drop in this conference. The Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders are all just a point out of 8th - and only 3 ahead of 13th placed Florida. It's a tight Eastern Conference already and that should always be kept in mind.
The schedule appears to favor the division leaders this week, as the Penguins and Devils both get an extra game. This means for the Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders to catch up - the time to start winning is now. The Rangers have another game with Pittsburgh and after being demolished by the Penguins on Saturday night, some revenge would do well for their morale as well as their team's record.
|PIT||@NYR||vs. COL||vs. CHI|
|NJD||vs. VAN||vs. TB||vs. DET|
|PHI||vs. VAN||vs. WSH|
That's also the only inter-division game, as the rest of the division takes on opponents from other Eastern divisions to as far as the Pacific division sweethearts of mediocrity, the Vancouver Canucks. But there's not a lot of traveling, only the Islanders will be mainly on the road; playing their next 5 games on the road. That's pretty odd considering they just had two home games last week after 7 straight road games.
As far as the Devils go, they kick off a month of 10 home games with 3 this week. They'll need Pittsburgh to slip up somewhere to surpass them in the standings; even if the Devils win all 3 of these games. So I think staying close to Pittsburgh would signify a successful week. The Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders mathematically can't catch up to them; so maintaining or extending the gap would be desirable. I know it's only the end of November, but it's a pretty good position to be in.