As much as I don't want to, I have to provide an apology to the New York Rangers. Last week, I didn't think much of their chances to win another week. I didn't think it was probable that they would have a six-game winning streak by November 13. Lo and behold, they did exactly that. As a result, they're in a strong spot in the Atlantic Division right now.
They jumped over the Philadelphia Flyers, they've obtained space from the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders are just distant objects in their rear-view mirrors, and they're not far behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first in the division. Whether they can keep up is another question entirely, but it's clear by the standings that they benefited the most from this last week of games. Let's learn more about the week ahead for the Atlantic Division after the jump.The Rangers swept their week at a time where only the Devils were to play as many games as they did. As well as the Devils did to get 4 out of 6, it wasn't enough to get ahead in the division or into the top half of the East. With respect to the latter, they are close. The Flyers stood around a bunch of times against Tampa Bay and proceeded to lose in overtime, so they suffered in that short week. The Penguins split their week, but that they still have played a couple of games more than the rest of the division. Funny how they seemed to be so far ahead in the past few weeks, but now they look vulnerable. Of course,
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The most interesting situation in the division are the New York Islanders. While they sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, I don't think their situation is dire. They have played the fewest number of games in the entire league with 13. They have games in hand on everyone else. They'll get to use some of them up with a busy four-game week that starts this evening. It won't be easy - nothing ever is in the NHL - but Isles fans should see how this week plays out before getting too concerned. While I don't think they'll catch the Devils this week (that would mean the Isles need to pick up 6 more points than them), a positive week will put them in a better spot in the East. Incremental success will lead to larger success if consistent. Of course, should they falter and remain at the bottom by the end of this month, then I wouldn't hold out much hope for the future unless they get super hot in December.
A look at the week ahead sees the Rangers going on the road and playing a shorter week, while the rest of the Atlantic will be quite busy.
|PIT||vs. COL||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|NYR||@ NYI||@ MTL|
|PHI||@ FLA||@ CAR||vs. PHX||@ WPG|
|NJD||@ BOS||@ BUF||@ TBL|
|NYI||@ VAN||vs. NYR||vs. MTL||vs. BOS|
I think the Rangers' winning streak will end soon, and it would be fantastic if it came in the week's lone intra-division game on Tuesday. Even if it doesn't, the Flyers have a shot at catching them. It won't be easy for them as they'll travel, and who knows how they'll react when they see each of their opponents line up in a defensive scheme of sorts. Still, mathematically, it's not impossible to see the Flyers re-taking second in the Atlantic and pulling a bit away from the Devils. As for the Penguins, they still control their destiny despite teams closing in on them in the division and conference.
As for the team we all love and support, the Devils get into the heart of their road trip in this week. They get a tough back-to-back against the defending Stanley Cup champions and hot Boston squad and the usually-hardworking Buffalo squad. Right at the end, they get to have a go against the 1-3-1 in Tampa Bay. Though, truthfully, they're more of a wildcard this season; but I'll save that for the game preview. In any case, the Devils are definitely in the mix and that's a good spot to be in the middle of November. Should they continue to have weeks where they earn more than half of all potential points, they'll move up in the standings.
What do you think the Devils will do on their road trip? How do you see the Atlantic Division playing out in this coming week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Atlantic in the comments. Thanks for reading.