There wasn't too much movement within the Atlantic Division within this past week. Two of the five teams had short weeks, and the one team with busiest last week extended their lead in the Atlantic.
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't just get a intra-division win over New Jersey, they took full advantage of their four games and really created themselves a nice gap ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and everyone else in the Atlantic. Sure, the Flyers (and the Devils) have enough games in hand and can take the lead if they win them all. Still, early on the season, the Penguins did their job and should appreciate their cushion. Oh, and they're still missing all-world players as they've done it.
Let's learn a little more about the division and what's coming up ahead after the jump.
Whereas the Penguins had more games than any other Atlantic division team last week, they're back down to 3 for this week. The Flyers will get a chance to close their gap with Pittsburgh as they'll use up a game in hand on their state rivals.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The Flyers could use the boost as they slipped a bit last week. At least they won a game. The New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders can't say that. Of course, the Devils are ahead by a mere point due to the fact that one of the losses came after regulation. Even just one point matters early on. Should the Devils rebound on their road trip and the Isles falter, they can create some distance from them. In terms of catching the Flyers, the Devils will need help from Philadelphia's opponents to do it this week. Keeping pace would suffice.
Actually, the same may apply to Our Hated Rivals, also known as the New York Rangers. They're still at the bottom but they've finally won a game. Two, in fact. Then they lost to Edmonton, getting shutout by superstar Nikolai Khabibulin of all goaltenders. Heh.
Here's the upcoming schedule for all five Atlantic Division teams.
|PIT||@ NYI||vs. NYI||@ TOR|
|PHI||vs. TOR||@ MTL||vs. WPG||vs. CAR|
|NJD||@ LAK||@ PHX||@ DAL|
|NYI||vs. PIT||@ PIT||vs. SJS|
|NYR||@ WPG||vs. TOR||vs. OTT|
The upcoming week presents a little dilemma from the Devils-perspective. In terms of trying to catch the Penguins, it would best serve New Jersey (and the rest of the Atlantic) for the Islanders to beat them in their two games. Yet, that would keep the Islanders in pace with the Devils or have them surpass them in the standings. It's not an easy decision on who to cheer for in the only two intra-division games of this coming week.
What is an easy decision are the Toronto Maple Leafs. They're hot and they're facing three non-Devils teams in the Atlantic. Ideally, the Leafs would be able take points from Philly, the Rangers, and Pittsburgh; and then cool off in the following week when they visit the Rock. I don't know how likely that will happen, though, since it appears the cooling off period has sort of begun for the Leafs. Plus, what Devils fan would be comfortable cheering for the Rangers of Canada? Something about the enemy of my enemy being my friend or something, I guess. Also: the
Thrashers Jets can also help out New Jersey by taking out the Rangers and Philadelphia this week too. They already beat the Penguins once, so it's theoretically possible.
As for the Devils, they need to put those last two awful games behind them and get re-focused for their Western Conference road swing. They won't face Los Angeles and Phoenix again after this week, and this is only one of two meetings with Dallas. While the Devils won't be hurt twice by not getting results of those three teams since theyr'e in separate conferences, it's always worth it to get points.
Anyway, what do you think will happen within the Atlantic in the coming week? Please leave your answer in the comments. Thanks for reading.