Now that everyone has played a full week of hockey this season, it's time to bring back a regular feature from last season: the weekly Atlantic Division snapshot. Every Sunday, I'll be providing an overview of the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the division will be facing in the upcoming week. The main purposes behind this is to provide perspective of where the Devils stand within the Atlantic - how they are doing and what they need to do to improve within the division in the coming week.
Here's a chart for the upcoming week.
|Team||GP This Week (H,A)||Potential Pts.||Last Week
The Devils will finish their currently successful road trip at Washington tomorrow night. According to this poll about the road trip last week, 32.4% of you expected less than 4 points on this trip and so have been proven wrong. The majority expect 4 or more, we shall see if more will be (hopefully happily) proven wrong. The Devils get a three day break before their first back-to-back of the season. They will host Atlanta on Friday night and then Carolina on Saturday night. It'll be interesting to see what the crowd will be on Friday given it's a "College Night." This on the same night as Rutgers hosting Pitt in football. I know these are planned in advance, but I wouldn't expect too many Rutgers alums at the Rock (myself included).
Nevertheless, even with a loss to Washington tomorrow, the Devils' confidence should be given a boost overall. Something they could use as they will look to get their first home win at the end of this week. Read on for what's in store for the rest of the division in this coming week.
The Pittsburgh Penguins opened up their season with two wins, but they stumbled in their second home game by losing to the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0. Seriously. But fans of the defending Stanley Cup champs shouldn't worry, as they responded with wins over Philadelphia and Toronto on the road in the first half of a four game road trip. The Penguins will finish their road trip this week at Ottawa on Monday and finally at Carolina on Wednesday. They close out their week at home to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. They remain in first and with continued results, they will stay there for now. Pensburgh is a good of a place as any to follow the Penguins.
After a successful start to the season, the Philadelphia Flyers picked up their third straight win in an overtime victory over Washington. Not a bad way to open your season at home, but then the Flyers would fall to the Penguins and then lose in the shootout on Saturday to Anaheim. The sparkling Ray Emery got his shine dulled by giving up 12 goals last week. Not exactly what the Flyers wanted to achieve in their three-game homestand last week. Unfortunately for them, the Flyers are primed to slip in the standings by math alone. They only play one game this week, an away game against Florida on Friday. Want more info on the Flyers? Visit Broad Street Hockey and find out what you'd like to know about the Orange & Black.
The New York Rangers have a great chance to jump in the standings this week. After winning road games at New Jersey and at Washington last week, they can stretch their winning streak to four with a win over Anaheim tonight. If not, it's OK because the Rangers play four games this week, three of which at home - Anaheim, Toronto tomorrow night, and LA on Wednesday. Their week ends in Toronto on Saturday, and the Blueshirts have plenty of opportunity to leapfrog Philadelphia and challenge Pittsburgh for the top of division. Want to know how the team itself is performing in more detail? Look no further than Blueshirt Banter.
The New York Islanders have been stingy to the point of forcing extra time in all three of their games so far. Good at getting points, but they really need to finish the job after keeping it so close. This week will give them three opportunities: at home against LA on Monday, and then a back-to-back where they visit Buffalo on Friday night and then host San Jose on Saturday night. Check with Lighthouse Hockey for further information this week.
I don't believe the Devils can retake the division now, but that shouldn't be the goal. The Devils should focus on improving their game overall and get to the level where the players, Jacques Lemaire, the other coaches, Lou, and the fans know they can play at. I don't think they don't need to win every game to do that. As it is, no one is in too deep of a hole - which should surprise no one. A good week can help them get into better position later on.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on how you see the Atlantic Division in the comments.