There wasn't much movement within the Atlantic Division after this week. Pretty much everyone had positive weeks of results except for the two Pennsylvania teams.
As seen in the above table, the New York Rangers still hold onto the Atlantic Division lead with a four-point hand and the knuckles of a game in hand. The Philadelphia Flyers remain in a competitive spot, not quite on the Rangers' heels and not quite ahead of the New Jersey Devils. The Devils picked up more points than the Pittsburgh Penguins, so their lead actually increased this week. As for the New York Islanders, well, they're getting close to being only single-digits behind fourth.
For more information on what the five teams in the division did and what they'll do in the coming week, please continue on after the jump.The Philadelphia Flyers had an average week and the Pittsburgh Penguins only just snapped a six-game losing streak with their third game last week. Even the Islanders had a good week, getting wins over Detroit (really) and Buffalo.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The effect on the Penguins is obvious. They fell to being in the playoff bubble after being right on the heels of the Rangers and the Flyers for much of the first half of this season. I think the Penguins have a solid team, but as their injuries keep mounting, it's going to be more and more challenging for them to surge right back to the #4/#5 team they were about a month or so ago. As for the Flyers, they missed an opportunity to claw their way closer to the top as they split their four-game week. The good news for them is that they didn't lose too much ground as the Rangers actually lost a game at the same time.
The rest of the Atlantic has reason to feel good. The Rangers remain at the top with games in hand on everyone else in the division except for the Islanders. The Devils had a bad game in Calgary but rebounded with two ROWs in Edmonton and Winnipeg to complete their road trip. The Islanders are just ahead of Tampa Bay (not Carolina) for last in the East as of this writing thanks to a week where they decisively beat Detroit and got a win on Buffalo.
In the last full week of games before the All Star Break, everyone in the Atlantic will be active.
|NYR||@ MTL||vs. NSH||vs. PIT||@ BOS|
|PHI||vs. MIN||vs. NYI||@ NJD|
|NJD||vs. WPG||vs. BOS||vs. PHI|
|PIT||@ TBL||vs. CAR||@ NYR||vs. MTL|
|NYI||vs. NSH||@ WSH||@ PHI||vs. CAR|
The Rangers' game in hand on the Flyers and the Penguins' game in hand on the Devils will be used up in this week. With how the schedule shakes down, it's a rather interesting breakdown by the end of the week. The Rangers and Penguins will face each other in a game where Devils fans may be confused on who they want to win. While all Devils fans would like seeing the Rangers fall flat on their stupid faces, the Penguins are now in direct competition for playoff spots as well as right behind the Devils in the Atlantic. After all, the Penguins have the easier schedule by facing two basement teams in the East and a franchise with a losing mentality. They could make up ground on the Devils in this very week.
The Devils have a pretty tough run of three games in this coming week. While they're all at the Rock, it begins with a re-match against the Winnipeg, the return of a Boston team who pasted NJ 6-1 the last time they came to Newark, and Team Comcastic in an afternoon game on Saturday. Not only does the team behind them in the Atlantic have an easy schedule on paper, the Flyers will have a good chance to extend their lead on the Devils as they'll play a regressing Wild team and the Islanders prior to the Devils game on Saturday. They could even make up ground on the Rangers as the Blueshirt's schedule gets difficult after today's game in Montreal. As the All Star Break gets closer, the challenge for the Devils is to continue to get points. If they can take them against Winnipeg and either one of the Boston and Philadelphia games, then I would be pleased.
What do you expect to happen in this coming week of games for the Atlantic Division? Can the Devils remain in third place by next week? Will the Flyers make up any ground on the Rangers, or will NY continue to hold first place with a lead? Do you think the Penguins will rebound in the standings as banged up as they are? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thanks for reading.