Another week ends, and it ends with the Philadelphia Flyers ruling the division. That's not news. For the first time since the start of the season, the New Jersey Devils are not in last place in the Atlantic Division. That's news.
The Flyers are pulling away with the division, though the Pittsburgh Penguins have recovered somewhat from their struggles. The New York Rangers did not, so they remain in the middle. Meanwhile, it's getting dire for the New York Islanders as they have not won a game - yes, just a game - since October 16. Read on to see what this coming week holds and why the Rangers deserve your attention.
Since the Devils aren't in last in the Atlantic Division; they are also no longer last in the Eastern Conference. Woo. There's your celebration, now back to the situation. The Devils did pick up 3 out of 4 possible points last week; but they have yet to win more than just one game in a week this season. If they want to start making any headway on the Rangers, then they need to get more results. That's going to be very difficult this week, given the Rangers' week.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Your eyes do not deceive you, the Rangers have a whopping 10 potential points for this week. Yes, they will play 5 games. By next Sunday, the Devils and Islanders will have a game in hand on the Rangers; and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will have the same number of games played as the blueshirts. I haven't looked ahead in the schedule, but I doubt there will be many 5-game weeks in the future. So Rangers fans, this is the week to hope your team gets hot. Devils fans, especially those of you who have those "I Cheer for Two Teams: The Devils and Whoever Is Playing the Rangers" this is the week the hope the Rangers fall miserably on their face.
Here's the upcoming week of games for all five Atlantic Division teams:
|PHI||vs. OTT||@ MTL||vs. TB||@ WSH|
|PIT||vs. NYR||vs. VAN||vs. CAR|
|NYR||vs. EDM||@ PIT||vs. BOS||@ COL||@ MIN|
|NJD||@ BOS||@ TOR||@ STL|
|NYI||vs. TB||vs. FLA|
Expect the Flyers to stay at the top. If they even win just one game, then they'll almost definitely stay in first for another week. Pittsburgh can only catch them if they run the table this week and the Flyers pick up no more than one point. The Rangers could catch the Flyers in theory, but that would require them to go 4-for-5 in wins or better while the Flyers do nothing. Fortunately for Philly, the Penguins can do their cross-state rivals a solid by beating them on Monday. Basically, if the Flyers can continue to play like they have been (8-1-1 in last 10), then their hold on the Atlantic should only be stronger by next Sunday.
As for the Devils, they should still be in "worry about ourselves" mode. They're on the road and they need multiple wins out of this week. Another 1-2-0 or a 1-1-1 week isn't progress. The same can be said for the Islanders. Forget about the division, they should just worry about breaking that horrendous losing streak.