It's the final week of the 2010 part of the 2010-11 season, and it's a busy one. Here are the current standings:
The Pittsburgh Penguins recaptured the top of the Atlantic Division but only with a slim lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. The New York Rangers are lurking in the distance of both, and are just that: lurking. The New York Islanders leapfrogged the New Jersey Devils by Christmas to put the team we love in dead last.
You may take it easy over the next few days, but everyone's got games to play - including a rivalry game and Pittsburgh in the showcase event of the season so far: the Winter Classic. See what's shaking after the jump. If you're looking for the Devils-Leafs preview, please click here or scroll down on the front page.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
Thanks to last week's scheduling, the Penguins took full advantage in the number of games on Philadelphia and took back the first place spot. Of course, it's incredibly slim at 1 point and the Flyers do have a game in hand on them. After this week, the Flyers will have two games in hand on Pittsburgh, so it's imperative for the Penguins to keep picking up points while hoping their in-state rivals falter.
Either way, it appears to me that the two Pennsylvania teams will battle it out for first in the Atlantic for the rest of the season. Those two each have a healthy lead on the Rangers. Blueshirt supporters better hope someone slips in the process, otherwise they'll be left behind and forced to contend with just making the playoffs. Which is far from a guarantee at this point. Don't misunderstand Ranger fans, it's not a slam on your team. It's a good spot to be in. Devils and Islanders supporters would love to see their teams in that position right now.
Alas, the Islanders and Devils are just about done at this point. The third-place Rangers are at least 20 points ahead of both and that's a canyon of a lead. The games in hand both the Devils and Isles have on the rest of the division are fruitless.
Here's the schedule of games for the upcoming week.
|PIT||@ OTT||vs. ATL||@ NYI||vs. WSH|
|PHI||@ VAN||@ LAK||@ ANA|
|NYR||vs. NYI||@ NJD||@ TBL|
|NYI||vs. MTL||@ NYR||vs. PIT||@ DET|
|NJD||vs. TOR||vs. NYR||vs. ATL||@ CAR|
It's a tougher week for the Flyers than I thought. Not only do they play one less game than the Penguins this week, but they get to embark on a west coast road trip. Not going to be easy games at all, while the Penguins beat up on 2 non-playoff teams, the Thrashers, and then get to play in front of a huge Pittsburgh crowd at Heinz Field for the Winter Classic.
Also of note this week is the continuation of the local rivalries. The Rangers get the Islanders on Monday and then hop on over to Newark for the Devils on Wednesday. Since the Isles and Devils are basically spoilers right now, barring some miracle, it would be great for those disappointed fanbases to ruin the Rangers' holidays for a little bit. Yep, it's come to that: playing for pride. Such is reality.