Another week down after a bit of movement within the Atlantic Division. There's a new leader at the top with a continued hot winning streak; and everyone else either made minor gains or took a step back.
The Philadelphia Flyers have won their last 5 games, whilst the Pittsburgh Penguins took a step back - but not a large one. The New York Rangers saw their winning streak get snapped, but remain the team with the most to gain given their relatively small amounts of games played. The New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders remain as they were.
For a closer look at how the teams got there and what's coming up in the next week, please continue after the jump.When a team wins all of their games while the teams ahead of them don't, it's usually a good bet they'll surpass them unless they had a big lead.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Of course, it's questionable whether the Flyers can keep it up. They've recently lost Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, and Ilya Bryzgalov to injury - all very important players. Plus, they've got some tough games coming up. More on that later. It's questionable whether they can fend off the Penguins (1 point behind) or the Rangers (3 points behind).
The Rangers now get a chance to make the Flyers and Penguins suffer. As I've been pointing out for weeks, they have games in hand on both Pennsylvania teams - and the rest of the Eastern Conference for that matter - and they'll use one of them this week. So even if they only picked up half of all possible points last week, they can definitely catch Pittsburgh and possibly Philly if they slip a bit. Yes, the Rangers have a not totally unrealistic shot at leading the Atlantic next week. Even if they don't, they'll still have at least one game in hand on Pittsburgh and Phialdelphia. I too hate this current situation.
As for the Devils, I'm still not concerned with their position. They did win two out of three last week. More importantly, the spacing between sixth and twelfth in the East is just four points. It's still tight in the East and a hot streak here or consistent good weeks in picking up points should see the Devils move up in the standings. In terms of outside shots at moving up, check out those New York Islanders. 3 out of 6 points and they're not in the bottom of the East. Keep on keeping on, Isles.
Here's what the week ahead has for the teams in the Atlantic Division.
|PHI||@ WSH||@ MTL||vs. BOS|
|PIT||vs. DET||@ OTT||vs. BUF|
|NYR||vs. FLA||vs. DAL||@ STL||@ PHX|
|NJD||@ TBL||@ FLA||vs. DAL||@ MTL|
|NYI||@ MTL||vs. DAL||@ MIN|
The Devils and Rangers will certainly be busy. The Rangers, I think, has the easier time of it since they don't have to travel until the second half of the week and they don't have any back-to-backs. As usual, we would like the Panthers, Stars, Blues, and Coyotes to beat up on the Rangers. Especially considering what's coming up next week. But the Devils will have to go through two back-to-back sets first. The Devils will go back to Florida first; return home to retire Scott Niedermayer's number and face Dallas (who will be on a back-to-back set); and then go up to Montreal. That's not going to be easy; if the Devils can somehow take 4+ points out of the week, then I may be pleased. Especially since that Florida team could be for real.
As for the rest of the division, they each have one fewer game to play, but none strike me as easy weeks. Philly gets Washington, Montreal, and Boston without some of their top players. The Penguins get the dynamo that is Detroit before a back-to-back where they travel up to Ottawa and back home for Buffalo. The Isles draw Montreal, Dallas, and then visit an high-ranking, overrated Minnesota team. No intra-division match-ups, but competitive games all over the place for everyone.
How many games do you think the Devils will win in this coming week? How will the rest of the division play out? Will the Rangers jump both Pennsylvania teams, one, or none? Please give your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thanks for reading.