The first full week of 2011 comes in with no one changing positions from last week.
The Philadelphia Flyers remain just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York Rangers continue to remain comfortable in the in-playoffs part of the Eastern Conference. The New Jersey Devils remain terrible, while the New York Islanders went out and had a very good week. Wait, what?
Yes, the New York Islanders had a 4 games last week and came out on top in 3 of them. Their only loss was to the hated Rangers in a 7-2 blowout, but they can claim victories over Montreal, Pittsburgh (!), and Detroit (!!). No, they aren't suddenly going to make a playoff run, but it's still a laudable run of results.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Incidentally, the Rangers were the only other Atlantic Division team to have a winning record last week. This bodes well for their goal of making the playoffs along with getting them a couple steps closer to the Flyers and Penguins. The Rangers will unfortunately end the week with second-place Philly having two games in hand on them, but 4 points isn't an insurmountable lead. Mathematically, it could be done this week if the Flyers or Penguins start dropping some points and the Rangers get hot. Still, the Blueshirt faithful should be pleased all the same for chipping away for another week.
Here's the upcoming week of games for the division:
|PIT||vs. TBL||@ MTL||vs. MIN|
|PHI||@ DET||@ NJD||vs. NJD|
|NYR||@ FLA||vs. CAR||@ DAL||@ STL|
|NYI||@ CGY||@ EDM||@ COL|
|NJD||vs. MIN||vs. PHI||@ PHI|
Philadelphia gets to "enjoy" Detroit tonight before getting plenty of rest before two consecutive games with the Devils. Since New Jersey is essentially playing for pride, it would be big to spoil the Flyers on one of those nights. Rangers and Penguins fans focusing on the standings should be cheering hard for New Jersey on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.
Outside of that rivalry, there's no other inter-division games this week. The Islanders continue on their road trip; the Rangers split their 4 games between Southeast Division teams and Central Division teams; and the Penguins will get a 3-day rest after hosting and losing the 2011 Winter Classic before taking on two playoff-bound teams in the East and the Minnesota Wild.