Only one team came out of last week with a winning record: the Philadelphia Flyers. Not coincidentally, that team is now in first place in the division.
Granted, the Pittsburgh Penguins are right there with them in terms of points. That extra game in hand just gives them the edge for now. The New York Islanders have fallen flat on their faces this week so they drop down to fourth. Whereas the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils kept to their paces so far to remain where they are on in the Atlantic Division.
See, this is where the Devils' futility is starting to catch up to them. Again, most of the division had a bad week:
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Yet, the Devils are now behind teams in the division by at least a game. That's worse than it sounds when you consider that the two New York squads that are ahead of them have games in hand on the Devils. Going through the first month of the season picking up one win at most in each week is definitely hurting now. Not just internally with the team or externally with the fanbase, but in the league standings. If they don't start climbing out of their hole as soon as possible, then it could bury them before the new year.
Those with games in hand on the rest of the division will benefit this week as everyone plays the same amount of games. There are a couple of intra-division match ups as well.
|PHI||vs. CAR||vs. NYR||@ NYI|
|PIT||@ DAL||@ ANA||@ PHX|
|NYR||vs. CHI||@ PHI||@ NJD|
|NYI||@ CAR||@ OTT||vs. PHI|
|NJD||@ VAN||@ CHI||vs. NYR|
Both the Flyers and the Penguins have good chances on paper to retain their spots at the top of the division. Philadelphia can get some extra space within the division in their games with the Rangers and at the Islanders. The Penguins will continue their four game road trip with two teams who have struggled so far (Anaheim and Phoenix) and a Dallas squad that's in the middle of the road (8th in the West right now). The Islanders will finish up a 3 game road trip before taking on the Flyers; their final game this week could be a great opportunity to move ahead in the division. The Rangers have a shot of making some noise if they get some results this week, not to mention more bragging rights should they defeat a miserable Devils team on Friday.
As for the Devils, as much as I'd like to see them move up, their task is much simpler: get wins. It is going to be unacceptable going forward to settle for only 2 points in weeks where 6 or 8 can be gained. It definitely won't be easy with road games in Vancouver and Chicago, followed up by a rivalry game at home on Friday. Yet, if we are to believe the Devils are a quality team with quality players, then they need to get some quality wins - and it needs to happen in November.