Welcome to the first weekly Atlantic Division snapshot of the 2011-12 regular season. For those who are unaware, every Sunday during the season I like to take a moment to highlight the divisional standings, provide a quick summary of how each team did in the prior week, and note who each team will play in the coming week. In this first edition,the Pittsburgh Penguins played the most games so far and earned the most points so they are right on top.
Right now, everyone in the division is looking good except for Our Hated Rivals. It's always good to see them at the bottom. As much as we can hope that the New York Rangers can remain winless, that's rather unlikely so let's just hope they remain in fifth. Moving on, please continue after the jump to see how each team in the Atlantic did last week and what's coming up for them in this week.Let me provide this caveat: the "last" week here only counts for this past week. I didn't include the short three-day week that kicked off the season. Interestingly, this highlights that everything isn't all glitter and gold for the Penguins. (Note: Potential points is for the coming week.)
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The Penguins had a busy week, they finished up a three-game road trip last Sunday and played three straight at home. As the record indicates, they weren't exactly taking full advantage of the schedule. I didn't see their games against Edmonton or Washington, so I don't know whether they left points on the table or should be pleased they even got a point in those games. Still, it's the sort of thing that can come back and haunt a team in the future. They'll have another busy week with 4 games in 7 days, which includes their first inter-division game of the season as they host the Devils on Saturday.
You know who didn't leave points on the table? The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. The Isles took all of the possible points last week, including a nice win over the Rangers. The Devils did the same, though they needed to succeed in the shootout in two of their three wins. That explains why the Islanders are ahead of the Devils in the standings right now. It's a welcome change for the Devils compared to last season. As for the Islanders, they actually started off last season well. The challenge is whether they can sustain it. For now, both teams should enjoy it as they head into a short two-game week.
As for the Philadelphia Flyers, they had a short week and took 3 out of 4 points. An overtime loss prevented them from a second sweep and ownership of the Atlantic Division. Even though they play one fewer game than Pittsburgh, the Flyers could easily take the top spot by next week should the Pens falter. Therefore, I think they should focus on keep doing what they're doing.
The Rangers are one of three winless teams in the NHL as of this writing. Good.
Here's the week ahead for the division - maybe the Rangers will one of their three games? Maybe against one of the two Alberta teams? Maybe?
|PIT||@ WPG||@ MIN||vs. MTL||vs. NJD|
|PHI||@ OTT||vs. WSH||vs. STL|
|NYI||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|NJD||vs. SJS||@ PIT|
|NYR||@ VAN||@ CGY||@ EDM|
The Flyers faithful who want to see their team leapfrog the Pens should be cheering pretty hard for the Devils among the other three teams they'll play. I think Philadelphia could do it, but it's going to take some "help" from Pittsburgh and that game against the Capitals will be quite difficult on Thursday.
The Devils-Penguins game on Saturday is the lone inter-division game this week. It'll be a tough one for New Jersey as it will kick off a road trip and come right after playing San Jose. If the Devils can at least one of those contests, then that would be fantastic. The short week will hurt them in terms of moving up the standings right away. Though, the Islanders don't have it easy either by going on the road against Tampa Bay and Florida. It's possible that the Devils may swap places with the Isles, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Anyway, what do you think will happen within the Atlantic in the coming week? Please leave your answer in the comments. Thanks for reading.