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Division Snapshot: 12/15 - 12/22

Like life, the NHL is not a vacuum. It's not enough for your favorite team to win, sometimes. How rivals play, how other teams in the division and conference perform, and recent runs of form can affect a team's chances. Ideally, we would want them to control their own destiny and, really, that's all they can really do. The Devils just can't make the Rangers lose hockey games on any given night, as wonderful as it would be.

And so I think it would be best to start a new weekly feature, where we take a snapshot of the Atlantic Division. I think it'll be at least instructive to see how the fellow Atlantic Divsion rivals are doing. See how much ground the Devils stand to gain or lose to their closest competitiors.

Atlantic Standings

New York Rangers 31 19 10 2 40
Philadelphia 28 15 7 6 36
Pittsburgh 29 16 9 4 36
New Jersey 25 15 8 2 32
New York Islanders 29 10 17 2 22

(updated 12.12.2008 at 9:00 AM EST)

The big advantage to the Devils' schedule so far is that while they sit in fourth place, they have games in hand on everyone in the division. 3 on Philadelphia, 4 on Pittsburgh, and a whopping 6 on the Rangers. So while you may not like how the points stack up, the opportunity is great for the Devils.

What has been unfortunate for the Devils is that despite being 8-2-0 in their last 10, the other teams in the division have kept a decent enough pace. Only the Penguins are below .500 in their last 10 for teams ahead of the Devils, with a sad 1-4 record in their last 5 games. Still, because they did so well in November (9-2-1!), they remain in the lead.

Anyway, the Devils have four games before next Monday: At Toronto, at Buffalo, vs. Ottawa, and vs. Philadelphia. Let's see how this stacks up against the others in the division. Mind you, games this week includes games played tonight and next Monday.

Team Games This Week (H, A) Potential Points Last 5 Games
NYR 3 (0,3) 6 2-3-0
PIT 3 (1,2) 6 1-4-0
PHI 4 (2,2) 8 4-0-1
NJ 4 (2,2) 8 4-1-0
NYI 3 (1,2) 6 0-5-0

As an aside, suffice it to say, sorry Dominik, but your team isn't doing so well. Back to the Devils. If I'm doing this right, they have a chance to get 2 up on Pittsburgh and/or the Rangers, and they do play Philadelphia on Sunday so they can pull two back from them assuming all teams win except where the Devils play a divisional opponent, where I assume the Devils will win - the best possible scenario.

The Devils will have to hope the Penguins will continue to struggle or hope the Flyers finally lose a couple games if they want to move up in the division this week. Of course, that only benefits the Devils if they benefit themselves with some wins. Let's hope they go out and get some this week.