The New Jersey split their last week's of games, losing to Atlanta and Anaheim but beating Los Angeles and Vancouver. Would it be enough for the Devils to rise within the Atlantic Division?
And unfortunately for the Devils, their games in hand on most of the division that they had back in December is pretty much gone. They got one on Pittsburgh, and two on the Rangers. Within the past week, the Flyers and the Rangers flipped and flopped. Other than that, nothing much changed in terms of position. The Penguins host Washington tonight, but even a win will only make them remain 5 points behind on the wrong side of a 2 game disparity with New Jersey. In terms of results, let's see how they've looked and what faces them next:
|Team||Games This Week (H, A)||Potential Points||Last 5 Games|
Poor Islanders! They have four home games coming up, perhaps they'll win one or two of them and give their fans something to cheer. In terms of inter-division matchups, the Devils play the Islanders on Saturday; and the Penguins will host the Rangers. The Devils getting the win against the Islanders will help with points; but it would be especially great if the Penguins won along with the Devils win too.
As far as New Jersey's obstacles ahead of them goes, it's not favorable for the Devils. The Flyers get to visit Tampa Bay and Florida on consecutive nights tomorrow and Friday, and host Atlanta next Tuesday. While doubting any of these teams is unwise, as we all learned last Thursday, it wouldn't surprise me if Philly picks up points in all three of those games. The Rangers have a tougher go at it, visiting Chicago, Pittsburgh, and hosting Anaheim. Pittsburgh finally quelled their struggles yesterday and Chicago and Anaheim are strong teams. They will not sweep short of some excellent hockey. Just as guess, we could see Philly re-take the Atlantic by next week.
As far as the one team in range behind him, the Penguins can't mathematically catch the Devils unless the Devils really slip and they catch fire. Capable as they could be and while at home, I don't think they beat Anaheim, the Rangers, and Carolina in a row. Sorry Frank.
The Devils get to finish this road trip this week against Columbus, the Islanders, and Nashville. Based on what I understand, the Devils could win those games. Yet, the Blue Jackets won't make it easy if only for Steve Mason, the Islanders won't make it easy if only for it's a rivalry, and the Predators won't make it easy because they want to strive for playoff position and need points to do it. The week ends with the Devils finally coming home to take on Montreal. I can't imagine the Canadiens to have as shaky goaltending that night as they did in their last visit. It'll be a tough week. Fortunately, the Devils do have an extra game over their rivals so New Jersey will gain some ground even if the top three win out. Hopefully, the Devils can keep pace or better and put them in a closer position to get back to the top of the Atlantic.