Everyone gained some kind of points in this past week. Among the movement within the Atlantic Division there is a new division leader to start this week.
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't win last night, but since they lost 1-0 to St. Louis in overtime, they surpassed the New York Islanders for first in the Atlantic Division. It's still tight at the top, so there's reason for them to keep pushing. The New York Rangers and Phiadelphia Flyers have games in hand on those two and could be turning things around. Lastly, the New Jersey Devils have only added one win last week and so deservedly remain at the bottom of the division.
Please read on after the jump to see what lies ahead for the division.
Unfortunately for Penguins and Islanders fans, the three teams behind them do have the opportunity to make up ground on them in this coming week:
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Not only do the Flyers and Rangers have an opportunity to pick 2 more points this week than those ahead of them, but they'll each have games in hand on the Penguins. In fact, the Rangers will come out of this week with games in hand on everyone in the division, plus potentially get a bigger leg up on the Devils since the two play each other on Sunday night. This is their week for the Blueshirts to shine. After the Devils, the Rangers will host two and then play Toronto again. If you enjoy that last matchup, make sure you watch it as their next (and last) one will be on January 19, 2010. Still, the possibilities for results are there for the taking.
Speaking of the next week, here is how it all breaks down for the division:
|PIT||@ TB||vs. PHI||@ CAR|
|NYI||@ MTL||vs. MTL||@ PHI|
|NYR||vs. NJ||vs. ATL||vs. CAR||@ TOR|
|PHI||@ CLB||vs. BUF||@ PIT||vs. NYI|
|NJD||@ NYR||@ SJ||@ ANA||@ LA|
Philadelphia is also involved in two intra-division games, against Pittsburgh and the Islanders in a back-to-back set to end their week. I re-emphasize their early importance as Flyers victories would swing them up the list; as if the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia rivalry needs another reason to be hotly contested. Pittsburgh will be on the road in their other two games, and the Islanders will face Montreal both home and away prior to their game with Philly. Both teams would be wise to get results from those games as to avoid the Flyers getting closer to them.
As for the Devils, well, the week is once again about just trying to get some wins. They'll be on the road for this entire week, starting off with a rivalry game with the Rangers and then going to California to battle with all three of those teams there. Getting their struggles sorted out need to happen soon to avoid being in a bigger hole by next week, and it won't be easy. It never is, but the game don't care; New Jersey needs to rise above and fast.