Welcome to the final weekly Atlantic Division snapshot of the 2013 regular season. It's not ending the way we would have liked but it's not about what we do or do not want. It is what it is. And all five Atlantic Division teams are heading into the final week of the season with winning records.
As the standings indicate, the Pittsburgh Penguins ran away with the division this season. They even clinched the Eastern Conference. They're five points behind Chicago for the President's Trophy and both teams have four games left. I don't think the Penguins will catch the Blackhawks for first in the league but there can be no shame for how well they've done. It's been winning streak after winning streak for them. And they're on one right now with six in a row.
Beyond the Penguins, there are the two other divisional representatives for the playoffs: the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. After weeks of those two teams and the New Jersey Devils floundering, both teams found ways to win a whole bunch of games as the Devils fell into a ten game winless streak. The Isles have been the hotter of the two. Not only did they sweep this recent week, but they have yet to lose in regulation in April. They've only lost twice beyond regulation. They could be a nasty surprise in the first round if they stay hot. The Rangers have had a good possession game and now that they're scoring loads of goals, they could prove to be a handful for Pittsburgh - assuming that's what the match-up will become. I know they aren't the teams we want to see in the first round, but again, it is what it is.
As for the Devils and Flyers, they're playing for pride and succeeding. The Devils finally ended their winless streak in Philly last week and rolled over Florida to earn their first winning week in a while. The loss to the Devils was the only bump in Philadelphia's road. They won their other three games last week, so there's still a battle for the basement.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position||SCS Playoff Prob.|
The Penguins were to play three games last week but their schedule got moved due to recent events in Boston. They'll play four in their final week just like the Rangers and Devils. Philadelphia and the Islanders will get three. As Sports Club Stats states as of this writing, the playoff picture for the division is just about set. Within the Eastern Conference, there is some wiggle room between sixth and eighth. The Rangers could catch the Isles assuming the Isles drop points. The Winnipeg Jets are right behind the Rangers, though the Rangers have a game in hand. Needless to say, Jets fans are going to be cheering as hard as they can for the Devils in this coming week.
|PIT||@ OTT||vs. BUF||@ NJD||vs. CAR|
|NYI||@ CAR||@ PHI||@ BUF|
|NYR||vs. NJD||@ FLA||@ CAR||vs. NJD|
|NJD||@ NYR||vs. MTL||vs. PIT||@ NYR|
|PHI||vs. BOS||vs. NYI||@ OTT|
The Devils and Rangers will face off in a bitter rivalry today and Saturday that Devils fans want to win if only to hold back the Rangers. The odds aren't in their favor, but the Jets need the Rangers to lose games in regulation to keep hope alive. Of course, that means they need to win games themselves. Unfortunately for those rooting for a Rangers collapse, the Blueshirts will face Florida and Carolina. While they're on the road, those are two teams that just want this season to be over. As for the Devils, they'll get tougher games in between the two against Our Hated Rivals. Montreal wants to win their division so don't expect them to take Tuesday night lightly. As for Thursday against Pittsburgh, well, the Pens have been so hot that things may go their way anyway. If you're of the opinion that the team shouldn't get results for a better draft pick, then this schedule could give you what you don't want to see.
As for the rest of the Atlantic, if you want to see Philly remain in last - and they're only a point behind New Jersey - then three games against playoff-bound teams should give you a feeling of some confidence. The Isles will finish their season on the road. With games against non-playoff bound teams, they could conceivably keep their winning streak going into the post season. After all, the Isles have racked up a superior road record this season; they could very well end up at the sixth seed in the East. Lastly, for the 2013 kings of the Atlantic, they can just do whatever they'd like and get rested for the postseason. As they should because if the Rangers do make it, then it's up to the Penguins to snub the potential smug that would come with a playoff upset.
I'd like to thank all of you who followed along with this weekly feature thoughout the season. It'll be back in October for the 2013-14 season. Let me know what you think will happen in the Atlantic Division this week. Will the Isles stay ahead of the Rangers? Will the Devils stay ahead of the Flyers? Will the Jets faithful get what they want? Please give your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.