The Atlantic Division didn't change too much in the last week. The Pittsburgh Penguins still lead the division, the Philadelphia Flyers are close behind them, and the rest are bunched up together at the bottom. This is what happens when everyone picks up some points at the same time. After all, there were only two regulation losses by Atlantic Division teams in the last week.
The Penguins remain at the top not just in points, but also in games played. Yet, their continued success gives them the edge as nobody with games in hand can catch them at the moment. All of this without Sidney Crosby. It's a little frightening that they could be even better. I'm not handing them the division since there's far too much hockey left to play this season. They certainly are the favorites, though.
Let's learn what lies ahead in the coming week for the Atlantic Division after the jump.It may seem odd that I put last week's record for each team along side with how many potential points they can have for the coming week. I do that to show who's been rolling or flailing; and how much more they can gain in coming games. With this week, it's time for the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils to fight back up in the standings.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Maybe all the Rangers needed was to go play some games on home ice. They've won their last 3 and they could catch Philadelphia should they stretch out their winning streak. I'm struggling to see the Rangers win six games in a row; but it's not possible. They'll need some help from Philly should the Rangers want to surpass the Flyers as New York makes up their games on them. The Devils will make up their games in hand on Philadelphia in this week as well, but they only make some headway in the standings. They can't mathematically get ahead of them in the standings this week even with help. That one point the Flyers got in the Devils' shootout win over them on Thursday ensured that. So the Rangers can catch up, but the Devils can only get close.
The New York Islanders are in an interesting spot. They already have a game in hand on the Devils and Rangers and they'll get another one by the end of this coming week. Unless the Devils drop their games, the Isles aren't likely to get out of the divisional basement this week. Yet, they can put themselves into good position to do in the following week with their two games. Just as the Rangers and Devils are making up their games in hand on the Flyers this week, the Isles will get their chance soon enough.
The two Pennsylvania teams will have short weeks and plenty of time to rest up. The Penguins won't play until Friday when they play the first of a back-to-back set of games. The Flyers only have one game and it's right smack dab in the middle. The Penguins will definitely finish in first by next week's post; but picking up more points will tighten their grip on the Atlantic.
|PIT||vs. DAL||@ CAR|
|NYR||vs. WPG||@ OTT||vs. CAR|
|NJD||vs. CAR||vs. WSH||@ WSH|
|NYI||@ BOS||@ COL|
Since there are no intra-divisional games, each team's supporters will just have to hope their rivals get beat on from a distance. That day will be on Wednesday in this week. Penguins, Rangers, and Devils fans will be cheering pretty hard for the Lightning. Since the Flyers only have the one game to play, Philly getting nothing out of it will help the Penguins keep their lead and help the Rangers and Devils catch up. Those same fans will also be hoping the Carolina Hurricanes decide to have a bad week as that's their common opponent.
Just at a glance, I'd say the Devils have the toughest week of games since they won't get the Canes in a back-to-back and they'll have a home-and-away set with one of the toughest Eastern Conference teams: the Washington Capitals. The Isles did beat them on Saturday, so they're not invincible; but they are still two tough games. As long as the Devils can pick up enough points to remain in striking distance of the Rangers and Flyers in the standings by next Sunday, then I would be content with that.
Anyway, what do you think will happen within the Atlantic in the coming week? Please leave your answer in the comments. Thanks for reading.