Our favorite team is back on top of the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. They may not last long in first. It may not even be true by the end of the night. At least it's recorded here for posterity's sake
The New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon to take over first in the Atlantic Division. The two teams will face each other later today so the Penguins could very well take it back. Even if that happens, the Devils and Penguins faithful should be really pleased with their team's position in the standings. In last week's Atlantic Division snapshot, the Devils went winless in four games. They reversed the results; the Devils won all of their games - in regulation, too - in this past week. As did Pittsburgh until yesterday. As a result, both have built up a lead of at least four points against the rest of the division: the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders. Both the Flyers and Rangers earned positive results last week; they're still recovering from poor starts. The Islanders not only have cooled off but they've lost four in a row. Surprising no one, they're back at the bottom.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
In addition to being right at the top, the Devils do have games in hand over the Pennsylvania teams. They'll make the one game lead over Pittsburgh by the end, though they'll still have one over Philadelphia. The Rangers have played the least and they'll remain that way with another three-game week. They'll be behind the Islanders by one game and at least two against the rest in the Atlantic. This could give them an opportunity to move up later; however, that will depend on how they and the other teams perform. As for the Islanders, they'll have games in hand against New Jersey and the Pennsylvania duo by the end of this week too. Though, they may be more concerned with just getting a win as soon as possible. They're at least close enough to Philly and the Rangers to challenge them.
Here's the schedule of games for the upcoming week for the Atlantic Division:
|NJD||@ PIT||vs. CAR||vs. PHI||@ NYI|
|PIT||vs. NJD||vs. OTT||@ WPG|
|PHI||@ TOR||@ WPG||@ NJD||@ MTL|
|NYR||vs. TBL||@ BOS||vs. NYI|
|NYI||vs. CAR||@ NYR||vs. NJD|
Based on the schedule alone, I'd say that Philadelphia has the toughest schedule within the Atlantic. It may also be one of the more important weeks for the Flyers. They get two back-to-backs, all four games on the road, and three of them are against teams they're in the mix within the Eastern Conference. That Devils-Flyers game on Friday will be a rivalry game and they should be up for that. However, if they want to get ahead of the pack instead of being within it, those other three games will matter more. And it's just difficult to do it in consecutive games away from home.
The Islanders will try to end their losing streak against Carolina, a game Devils fans should pay a little attention to since they'll get them on Tuesday. The Isles will take on their closest rivals later in the week; that Valentine's Day game against the Rangers should raise the hate on a day of hearts. The Rangers will get Tampa Bay again and Boston in the run up to that one. Both the Rangers and Isles can conceivably jump past the Flyers if they slip up on the road, so those fans should keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard.
The Devils' schedule will be difficult as well and their week does end with a back-to-back. Not a long travel of Newark to Montreal like Philadelphia; but they get to play the most games within the Atlantic. They'll play Pittsburgh before the Penguins get two games outside of the division with some time in between. The Devils will host Carolina and then face the Flyers and Isles, two teams with losses to New Jersey they'd like to avenge, in consecutive games. The Devils are on a winning streak, but a positive week of results should help them stay at least near the top while keeping their division rivals down. That really should be the hope rather than the unlikely event of another perfect week of wins.
What do you think will happen in the Atlantic Division this week? Will one of the Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders break away from the pack? Will the Devils and Penguins keep their leads from those three teams? Which one of them will lead the Atlantic by next week? What do you expect the Devils to do with this week's schedule of games? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was (and ahead) in the Atlantic Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.