This is the next-to-last weekly Atlantic Division snapshot for the 2010-11 season. The Atlantic Division is just about a lock to send three teams to the playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers, who are in the driver's seat to win the division, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have clinched a playoff berth. The New York Rangers need to collapse to lose their spot at this juncture. The other two teams, the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, are just playing for pride at this point.
Please check out what the week holds for each of the five teams in the division after the jump.
The playoff dream is over for the Islanders and all-but-definitely over for the Devils. Both needed to earn nearly all of the points available in this past week. Both managed to win only one game. The remaining two weeks (and one day) in the season will all be just for pride and to avoid finishing last in the Atlantic. The latter is a real possibility depending on the rest of the season plays out. The Isles can catch the Devils depending how the results go; though the Devils do have the benefit of a game in hand. They can take solace that neither will be last in the Eastern Conference.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
As noted above, the Penguins and the Rangers made the most of the previous week. The Rangers getting seven out of eight points puts them in a great position to secure a playoff spot. In fact, they're tied with sixth-place Montreal as of this writing with 87 points. With the Canadiens floundering, it's not impossible for the Rangers to even move up a spot. Of course, with only two games in this coming week, it's not really likely.
The Penguins managed to clinch a playoff spot last week, congratulations to them. They still have plenty to play for beyond keeping the #4 seed. They can still theoretically catch the Flyers for first in the Atlantic Division. It'll be difficult since the Flyers have a game in hand on Pittsburgh in addition to a 4 point lead. Tuesday's game is a must-win for the Pens if they want to snatch first place as the season dies down.
|PHI||vs. BOS||@ PIT||vs. ATL||@ NJD|
|PIT||vs. FLA||vs. PHI||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|NYR||@ BUF||@ NYI|
|NJD||vs. NYI||vs. PHI||vs. MTL|
|NYI||@ NJD||vs. NYR||vs. CAR|
That's right, the Battle of Pennsylvania will be a statement game. If the Flyers can win, then they have a clear path to first in the Atlantic. If the Penguins take the points, then the final week of the season could get quite interesting. Penguins fans will also be cheering on New Jersey pretty hard on April Fool's Day to improve their own chances at taking first place.
The Rangers' two games this week come in a back-to-back set. The first is a road game against another team battling for playoff security in Buffalo and a rivalry game against the Isles. That's rather interesting from the schedule makers. The Buffalo game will be key to hold the Sabres back, while the game against the Isles is important just to keep pace with everyone else. They're in a good spot to make the postseason now, they just have to avoid dropping both games.
As for the bottom of the division, I leave it to you to decide who has the tougher schedule. After Wednesday's game against the Isles, the Devils get to host the Flyers and the Canadiens back-to-back. As for the Islanders, they get the Rangers right after the Devils game and then a Carolina team that will likely need all the points it can get to still have a chance at catching Buffalo - if that's even still possible.