Welcome to the first weekly Atlantic Division snapshot of the 2010-11 season. For those unfamiliar with this, every Sunday (or so) I take a look at the division standings, quickly summarize what the rest of the Atlantic Division teams have done in the prior week, and list their schedules for the coming week of games. I focus on the division itself, as to see how the Devils stack up against their rivals from week to week. It helps identify what games are important and who benefits (or suffers) from the schedule for the coming week.
It's early in the season, so no one is really ahead of the game. Unless you're a Philadelphia Flyer:
Already the Flyers have taken an early lead, but of course it means very little now. Not just because the New York Rangers and New York Islanders have a game in hand on them, but that it's also really early in the season. Find out what lies ahead for the entire division, including New Jersey's chance to recover from their auspicious start.
Actually, it's not just New Jersey who has a chance to jump ahead; but the Pittsburgh Penguins as well.
The Flyers and Rangers get a lighter week of games, but the other teams can mathematically jump ahead of them in this week. Again, it doesn't mean much early. Though, keep this in mind when it's March or April, and teams are separated by only a few points. The games count just as much as now as they do then.
While the schedule gives them the chance, though, the Devils' injury problems among their 20-man active roster really is unfortunate. Like with the Islanders and Penguins, they will not have any real breaks to heal up. The Devils could very well have to play a few games shorthanded.
The first intra-division games of the season will happen on this Monday - for the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders. The Penguins opened up the season against Philadelphia; thanks to acasser for reminding me. The Rangers-Islanders rivalry is renewed in an early afternoon matinee; and the Devils will take on fellow slow-starting Pittsburgh at 4 PM. Pittsburgh gets the gift (or curse) of intra-division games with 3 this week. Look to them not only tomorrow, but in this week when you can to get a taste of what the rest of the division may do early this season.
As for the Devils, the first step is to get a win - the same as their opponent's on Monday. Even if it doesn't go so well, they'll have 3 more games this week to right the ship quickly. That said, if they don't sharpen up quickly, they're going to be in a deep hole.