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NJ Devils & Atlantic Division Weekly Snapshot: 10/18 - 10/24

There has been some movement within the division as Philly stayed mostly idle, the Devils won 2 of 3 games, and the Rangers are blazing right now.   All the way to the top, even.   Again, I understand most fans may not care about the division standings this early in the season.  Yet, last I checked, a win in October counts just as much as a win in March.  Where the standings are situated early on will drive what every team has to do later in the season.  Hence, this weekly feature.

Atlantic Standings

New York Rangers 8 7 1 0 14
Pittsburgh 8 7 1 0 14
New Jersey 7 4 3 0 8
Philadelphia 6 3 2 1 7
New York Islanders 6 0 3 3 3

(updated 10.18.2009 at 8:19 AM EDT)

Here's a chart of the upcoming week for all 5 Atlantic Division teams.  Note that I'll be following playoff position for the conference position. So while the Rangers and the Penguins both have more points than anyone else in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers are in first due to goal differential and so the Penguins are in fourth.

Team GP This Week (H,A) Potential Pts. Last Week
Conf. Position
NYR 3 (2,1) 6 4-0-0 1st
3 (3,0) 6 3-0-0 4th
2 (0,2) 4 2-1-0 7th
2 (2,0) 4 0-1-0 8th
NYI 3 (2,1) 6 0-3-0 14th


Now, it is the Devils turn to wait before playing some divisional opponents.  They will sit for 4 days before visiting MSG to play Our Hated Rivals on Thursday and then a trip to Pittsburgh on Saturday.  While the Devils are 3-0 on the road this season, the two upcoming road games aren't easy games.   Even if the Rangers have their winning streak snap prior to Thursday, you just know they are going to be up for this game.  And while a big story in the NHL has been the 7 game winning streak the Rangers are currently enjoying, the Penguins are on a 5 game winning streak of their own.  

At least the Devils will have the time to prepare for both games.  Coming out of this week with points should be seen as a welcome sign.  The Devils won't be able to move up in the division this week, they only have 2 games this week.  So stockpiling points is the plan, really. Read on for a summary of what the other four Atlantic Division teams will be dealing with this week.

The New York Rangers took all the points last week and have won their last 7 games.  Yeah, they're doing pretty good.  Marian Gaborik has been a revelation with 6 goals and 6 assists - tied third in the league overall in scoring with LA's Anze Kopitar. But the team is getting it done seemingly everywhere.  That said, this could very well be the week the streak ends.  On Monday, the Rangers will host the San Jose Sharks.  The Sharks haven't had a great start to the season; but they are talented team in their own right.  Thursday brings the big rival to MSG, the New Jersey Devils - and I'm confident that the Devils want some revenge from the last Devils-Rangers game.  Then Saturday sends them on the road to play the Montreal Canadiens.   The Rangers could very well stay at the top of the division, but I doubt they win all three games this week.  Blueshirt Banter is your source for Rangers news if you're into that sort of thing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing like champions as of late, having won their last 5 games.   And the home fans must be loving it, as the Penguins are now in the middle of a 5-game homestead.  All one could really complain about the Penguins' performance on the surface is that their power play has been only successful 17.3% of the time.  The string of results has kept the Penguins in pace with the Rangers and since both teams play 3 games in this coming week, they can certainly continue to do so.  This week Pittsburgh will host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers on Friday, and the Devils on Saturday.  Pensburgh will continue to hit you with some of the best Penguins coverage out there.

The Philadelphia Flyers only had one game last week and they lost it to Florida 4-2.  A game won by a shorthanded goal by Radek Dvorak.  Ouch.  And so the Flyers fall to a point behind the Devils.  They can move ahead of the Devils this week with some "help."  The Devils will need stumble somewhere this week, while the Flyers succeed in their own two games.  The Flyers will have sat for 5 days before hosting the Boston Bruins on Thursday, plenty of time to prepare for what should be a tough opponent.  And then on Saturday they will host Florida, another game that certainly won't be easy for Philadelphia.  At least next week, they'll play 3 games. To follow the Flyers in their attempt to get points this week, I would suggest visiting Broad Street Hockey.

The New York Islanders started off the season grinding out points in their first three games, but with no wins.  In their last three games, they haven't done that - losing in regulation in all three.  Will this be the week where they get their first win?  On Wednesday they will host the Carolina Hurricanes, and then on Thursday they travel north and visit the Montreal Canadiens.   Saturday brings the Washington Capitals to town.  For the Islanders' sake, I hope this will be the week where that will happen.  Yet, it already looks like another disappointing season early on for the Islanders.  Lighthouse Hockey has and will cover the Islanders this season.

Please leave your comments on what you expect from the Devils and the rest of the division in this coming week. Will the Devils take points away from the division leaders?  Will the Rangers or the Penguins finish the week in firsr?  Can the Islanders finally get a win?