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Quick Division Snapshot 1/31-2/4

Time for a quick Division Snapshot to put it back on it's Wednesday-ish schedule. After last night's game, we learn of an important figure in Jamie Langenbrunner's resurgence from Chere:

And he [Langenbrunner] credits Juergen Merz, who was officially the Devils' massage therapist from 1996-97 to 2002-03 when the team won two Stanley Cups, but was much more to some players.

"I feel more relaxed out there," Langenbrunner said. "Getting phone calls from my buddy Juergen Merz. We talk things through all the time and sometimes it eventually kicks in. He does a good job of settling me down to go out there and just play hockey.

Juergen Merz, eh? Maybe he can be brought back, Lou? Oh, yeah, Chere reports that Elias Sports Bureau found that Langenbrunner's the first Devil to score consecutive overtime goals. Speaking of firsts, that's where New Jersey is in the division now.

Atlantic Standings

New Jersey 50 32 15 3 67
New York Rangers 50 29 17 4 62
Philadelphia 48 26 13 9 61
Pittsburgh 50 24 21 5 53
New York Islanders 48 14 29 5 33

(updated 1.31.2009 at 9:13 AM EST)

It's not just first place, it's first place with some breathing room! All thanks to the eight game winning streak that they are on. The Flyers are dangerous as they remain with 2 games in hand, but even if they win both, they'd still be two points behind the Devils. The Devils are enjoying a break before hosting Washington on Tuesday. That's their only game until Friday, February 6.

The Rangers will go up one game ahead of New Jersey in terms of games played in this time period. They are playing in Boston today and hosting Atlanta on Tuesday. The Rangers can make up some ground, but not enough to get within more than 3 points by this coming Wednesday.

The Flyers stumbled against Florida after the All-Star Break, but laid a beating on Tampa Bay last night. Tonight, they'll visit St. Louis and then host the Bruins on Wednesday. While I'll write the next update Wednesday evening, the Flyers would have a game in hand on New Jersey when it's all said and done. But again, they can't get close to first before then.

The Penguins, who the Devils beat last night in overtime, play in Toronto tonight. Then they have a back-to-back set of games, with a trip to Montreal on Tuesday and a home game against Tampa bay on Wednesday. For all intents and purposes, Pittsburgh's concern has to be getting back into the top half of the division much move up in the division. Even then, they're 8 points behind Philadelphia, and their cross-state rivals have played fewer games.

The Islanders are just happy to be here in the league. But seriously, they beat the Thrashers and are currently on the cusp of a three game winning streak. They host Florida tonight and then Tampa Bay on Tuesday. It won't mean much within the Atlantic, but the team should still give it a go and please their fans a little bit.

Unless I'm missing something, I don't see how the Devils wouldn't remain in first. Don't expect it to be so easy in the future. All good streaks do come to an end, and the season really picks up from Wednesday going forward.