It was a busy week in the Atlantic Division, yet the five positions remained the same at the end of it all. Still, fans of all five teams will have something to be happy and thankful.
The Philadelphia Flyers picked up points in each of their four games last week and kept their division lead. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. The New York Rangers are keeping the Penguins and Flyers in range. The New Jersey Devils actually went through a week where they won more than one game for the first time all season. The New York Islanders actually won a game and got points in their other two games last week. So much to be positive over. Read on to see what this week holds:
The Atlantic Division has a lighter run of games this week in terms of quantity compared to last week. A quick summary of the situation at hand shows that last week was pretty good for the division overall.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The important team for a neutral to look at for this week are the New York Rangers. They have 3 games, they are all inter-division games, and they could theoretically catch the Penguins. Of course, that would require Pittsburgh to cool off. They've won their last 6 games and they have not lost in regulation in their last 9 games. Needless to say, the Penguins are blazing. So why even bring up the possibility of the Rangers trying to catch up?
Because the Rangers will play the Penguins on Tuesday. Oh, the Rangers were the last team that the Penguins didn't beat - they won in overtime. If the Rangers want to get back to challenging for the division, then winning Tuesday's game would be huge.
Of course, Penguins fans will hope to win that game and try to take advantage of that extra game they'll have on Philadelphia this week. They'll also be cheering pretty hard for Boston and the Devils in their games against the Flyers in the hopes topping their state rivals by next Sunday.
Here's the schedule of games for the division at large:
|PHI||vs. BOS||vs. NJD|
|PIT||@ NYR||vs. ATL||@ CBJ|
|NYR||vs. PIT||@ NYI||vs. NYI|
|NJD||vs. MTL||@ PHI|
|NYI||vs. NYR||@ NYR|
Given how the standings are, it would benefit the Devils for the Rangers to beat the New York Islanders despite of how funny it would be if the Isles took 4 points from the Rangers. The Devils only have 2 games; two more difficult games - against division leading Montreal and a rivalry game in Philadelphia; and the Islanders already have 2 games in hand on New Jersey. They already lost to the Isles, which was their first win in their last 15 games; they don't need to have the Islanders jump them in the standings.
As difficult as this coming week's games will be for New Jersey, the team needs to get something out of each of them. Here are the standings on NHL.com for positions 8 through 15 in the Eastern Conference as of this writing:
It's going to be a while for the Devils to make any real headway on the Rangers in third. But the Devils can at least keep pace with the likes of Toronto, Florida, and Buffalo. Unfortunately, like the Islanders, a couple of teams ahead of New Jersey have games in hand on the Devils. All the Devils can do about it now is to somehow get results in their coming week of games. Go get it done.