There were no changes in position in the Atlantic Division this week. The Pittsburgh Penguins held off the New York Rangers by a point; the Philadelphia Flyers continue to stand alone; and the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders remain in the basement.
This last week, however, did allow some teams jockey for a positional change soon. The Rangers to got right behind Pittsburgh. The Flyers' lead isn't so large, while the gap between New Jersey and the Rangers only became larger. This week may be short for you at work and school due to the Thankgiving holiday, but it's a tough one for Atlantic Division. Read on to see what's ahead for this week.
Here are the results from this past week along with a listing of potential points for this week:
You know, if the Rangers took one of those losses beyond regulation and lost last week, they would be tied with the Penguins. If they'd won one additional game, then they'd be ahead and looking at Philadelphia with ambition. Instead, they get to breathe down their neck in addition to holding an OT win over them.
Let's shake our heads at New Jersey. Not only did the Devils lose all three games, they are really in a deep hole The Rangers picked up 6 out of 10 points last week. So that 5 point lead the Blueshirts became a massive 11 point lead. Yes, the Devils have a game in hand but that really doesn't make it that much more manageable. In the conference standings, Toronto (who the Devils lost to last week) is sitting in thirteenth with 17 points. Distance was made between bad and awful in the East. Along with the fact that the Devils struggle enough to win one game per week, putting up an donut on the standings really hurt.
Yet, the Devils remain ahead of the New York Islanders. Scott Gordon got fired when it was a 10 game losing streak. The coaching change sparked the Isles to lose their two games last week to extend their current losing streak to 12 games. Guess changing the coach isn't always effective. Huh. Anyway, they will at least get another game in hand on everyone else in the Atlantic, which means little given the fact they lost their last twelve games.
A look ahead to this week's schedule shows that the two bottom-dwellers will get a chance to prove that they aren't the worst in the Atlantic on the date of shopping madness, Black Friday.
There's only two intra-division games and they both involve New Jersey. The only other item of note is that the Calgary Flames will be rolling through the Atlantic Division this week. They've struggled this season with a 8-10-0 record, and will kick off a 5-game road trip with a game in Detroit tonight. Everyone against the Isles will get a piece of the Brent Sutter-led lineup.
Meaning the Devils will likely struggle with them because who haven't they struggled against? Before the two intra-division games the Devils could drop, they'll host the Eastern Conference leaders Washington Capitals before taking on the Flames, who will probably come out hard since New Jersey will be the weakest opponent they'll face on the trip. You may not like that prior sentence, but I don't know how you can argue otherwise with a 5-13-2 record.
The Devils needed wins badly weeks ago, and they need them now. Will the cycle be broken this week?