The New Jersey Devils are so hot, they got the best kind of result within the last week: a complete sweep. 4 games, 4 wins. Excellent work by the Devils. However, it was enough to put them a little bit past the New York Islanders and moves them into thirteenth in the Eastern Conference. It's still progress. Other than that, the Atlantic Division remains the same in the first three positions:
The Philadelphia Flyers didn't play much but they must be pleased with the futility of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their division lead can be made much larger in this coming week. I show how much after the jump.
The Philadelphia Flyers had one game last week, against Carolina, and they won. The Pittsburgh Penguins had four games last week and only three points to make up in the last snapshot. They won one game, so they remain behind by 3 points. Now the Flyers have a whopping three games in hand - a potential of 6 points to pull away from Pittsburgh. That's a potential that really hurts the Pens and the Flyers can realize that potential starting with this week.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
As an aside, let me give a shout out to the Ottawa Senators. They've fallen like an anvil off a cliff in recent weeks, which has helped the Islanders and the Devils out in the conference standings. Thanks, Sens!
Moving back to the top of the Atlantic. Two of those three games Philly has in hand will be played in the next seven days. The Flyers have the opportunity right now to cement themselves in first place. Surely, they cannot blow it? As for the Penguins, they just need to win just to stay in the picture. At least they are set in fourth in the conference for the time being with a six point lead over Washington. Two more games dropped will only put them further back from the Flyers. Needless to say, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are sorely missed.
The New York Rangers just need wins period. They remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, which is still a qualifying spot for the playoffs, but they are flailing as of late. They lost their four games and now only sit two points ahead of eighth-place Atlanta and three of ninth-place Carolina, who has two games in hand on the Rangers. They need points and now.
The situations for both the Pens and the Rangers definitely make Sunday's game on NBC much more important.
|PHI||vs. LAK||@ TBL||@ FLA||@ CAR|
|PIT||@ NYR||@ COL|
|NYR||vs. PIT||vs. LAK||@ NJD|
|NJD||vs. CAR||vs. NYR||@ CAR|
|NYI||@ BUF||@ OTT||vs. BOS||vs. LAK|
While Penguins fans are hoping their team gets a 'W' at MSG, they'll be hoping the Kings beat on Philadelphia. Then they'll be hoping the Southeast division can take care of business at home against the Flyers. As for the Rangers, they get a nice three-day break after the Penguins game before a tough back-to-back with the Kings and the Devils. Their fans will hope the Devils will be cooled off with not playing in four days.
The Islanders and Devils are pretty much in the same spot. While not yet mathematically eliminated, their playoff chances are incredibly small. Therefore, they get to either spoil teams looking for points to secure a playoff spot, like with all three opponents for the Devils; or they get hurt teams already in position, like the Islanders' games against Boston and Los Angeles. The Islanders could catch the Devils, another piece of motivation, in this coming week; but that requires the Devils to drop games and the Islanders to win in their place. That could happen, but given how both teams have done lately, I wouldn't hold my breath.
We shall see by next Sunday whether the Rangers continue to flounder, who sits in fourth, and whether the Flyers will remain at the top for awhile.