For the Devils, it's imperative this week that they get back to their winning ways. They have one more road game before returning home, and that's in Long Island on Monday. The Islanders are currently the hottest team in the East with 3 straight wins, so it's no gimmie. Nevertheless, the Devils returning home should be good for them and if they can get a few wins, they'll still stay at the top of the division with a lead. As far as the Eastern Conference goes, the Buffalo Sabres and the Washington Capitals are only behind by one point. I wouldn't hold my breath over the Devils remaining as kings of the East after this week unless the Devils roll out a winning streak.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Yet, the team that absolutely needs to win their games this week is Pittsburgh. You see, the Penguins' schedule gives them a big break with only 2 games this week. Everyone else in the division has 4. If the Penguins drop their games against the Islanders and Capitals, then that just opens the door for the Devils to increase their lead while giving the Rangers a shot at catching up.
As far as the rest of the division goes, the opportunity here is huge. Everyone has games in hand on Pittsburgh and right now, they come into play this week. If I'm the Rangers, I get up from last week's results and start playing big because the two games in hand are this week. The Islanders will still have a game in hand on Pittsburgh thanks to both teams playing each other, but it's important points for both teams - especially now that the Islanders are in a playoff position now. The Flyers and Devils will still have two games in hand but that doesn't excuse dropping games of opportunity. Time for all the non-Islander teams to get off the ground, sweep off the dirt, and get to winning. Here's the how the next week looks:
|NJD||@ NYI||vs. FLA||vs. MON||@ NYI|
|PIT||vs. NYI||vs. WSH|
|NYR||vs. MON||vs. TB||@ PHI||@ MON|
|NYI||vs. NJD||@ PIT||vs. FLA||vs. NJD|
|PHI||@ WSH||vs. CBJ||vs. NYR||vs. CAR|
The inter-division action heats up with the Islanders playing New Jersey twice and Pittsburgh once. They'll be big games for them and if they want to turn playoff-whispers into playoff-conversations, then those games are important ones to win. A statement would be sent to the rest of the league that the Islanders aren't the doormats you thought they were. The big dogfight at the bottom of the division will be intrigued by Thursday's Flyers-Rangers game. Given close both teams are, the Flyers could see their way up from fifth just based on that game alone.
With how well the Devils have played so far this season, last week's one-win result is no big deal because they've done well enough pull themselves away from the pack. At the same time, the Penguins aren't that far behind and the Eastern Conference lead was never out of doubt for the other division leaders. It will become a big deal if the Devils don't rebound quickly from the loss. That said, I think they have plenty of games this week to get back to their winning ways and re-establish their dominance.