Pittsburgh remains at the top and the New Jersey Devils remain just behind them despite being on a losing streak. However, the Philadelphia Flyers have been successful and are primed to make a move up in the Atlantic in the coming week.
The Devils' recent woes have opened the door for the Flyers to just claw closer point by point within the standings. Philadelphia still has played more games than everyone else in the Atlantic so they're going to feel tension from that eventually. The New York Rangers faithful should be most pleased by that fact as they're not far behind with four games, a potential of eight points, in hand. However, in the short term, the Flyers are getting consistent results and their rise up the East shouldn't surprise anyone.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
What is surprising is that they were the only team that won more games than they lost. Pittsburgh needed a wild 7-6 win in Montreal on Saturday night. Devils fans here know all too well of their losing streak. The team has played pretty well in their last two games but goals and points elude them to a degree. The Rangers had just two games and split them. The Islanders only mustered one point out of a potential six as they begin to get left behind in last. It's early enough in the season that the gap between first and fourth in the Atlantic is fairly small. However, as the halfway mark of the season approaches, those gaps could become larger very soon. With this in mind, Philly having a positive week at least gives them a good spot to build from.
They'll want to keep the good times rolling as their upcoming schedule gives them two games within the Atlantic and the Devils, Rangers, and Isles will make up a game in hand on them.
|PIT||vs. TBL||@ PHI||@ TOR|
|NJD||@ TOR||vs. TBL||vs. BUF||@ CAR|
|PHI||@ NYR||vs. PIT||@ BOS|
|NYR||vs. BUF||vs. PHI||@ NYI||vs. OTT|
|NYI||vs. OTT||vs. MTL||vs. NYR||vs. WSH|
The Flyers get Our Hated Rivals and their in-state rivals before heading up to Boston right up at the end. That's a tough set of games, even if they only have three this week. As a Devils fan, it's difficult to identify what the rooting interest is when it comes to Philly. If you want Philly to stay behind New Jersey, then you will likely want Pittsburgh to get further ahead from the Devils, hope Boston takes care of business, and (gulp) want the Rangers to win. I'm loathe to suggest supporting the Rangers in anything, and a win then can pull the Rangers close to New Jersey. Should you want the Devils as close to first place as possible, then cheer on the Orange & Black on Thursday. Oh, and hope Tampa Bay and Toronto make something of their games on Monday and Saturday, respectively.
Your decision should probably depend on what the Rangers do in their week, where they also get a heated rivalry game against the Isles along with Buffalo and Ottawa. If they start well, then maybe you don't want them to succeed like a reasonable person. If they don't, then it'll be easier to swallow the proverbial pill. Incidentally, the Isles really need to gear up for that one. They're not out of the picture yet, but if they can get something out of their games with Ottawa and Montreal and then achieve a result against their hated rivals, then they could pull themselves out from the bottom. If they continue to win one or fewer games per week, then it shouldn't be a surprise when they're more than just two points behind fourth in the Atlantic.
Our favorite team has a busy week ahead. They open with a back-to-back where they'll travel to Toronto to play a team with a better record than their quality and then host an offensively-charged Tampa Bay squad. Saturday's game against Buffalo was quite nasty. I'm sure not all of the ill will generated will be forgotten for the re-match on Thursday. After that, they'll get to go down to play Carolina, who has been playing pretty good hockey as of late. The first step for New Jersey is obvious: get a win. They haven't won one in their last four games. It needs to come sooner rather than later, otherwise we could very well see New Jersey drop to third or even fourth in the Atlantic as well as possibly outside of the top eight in the East.
What do you think will happen in the Atlantic Division this week? Will the Flyers use their previously successful week as a stepping stone to move on up, or will they stay where they are? Now that the Rangers actually have a busy schedule, will they make a move? Can the Isles pull themselves out from the bottom? Can the Penguins extend their hold on first place? Most of all, will the Devils have a successful week after two straight unsuccessful ones?