It's early in the season, but the Atlantic Division is already taking shape. The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their hold on the division lead and have put themselves in a good position to hold off all opponents. The Philadelphia Flyers have separated themselves from the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils. They have enough of a gap to try and chase Pittsburgh. Plenty can change over the season, but that's what the division looks like as of right now.
|New York Rangers||9||3||3||3||9|
|New York Islanders||9||3||4||2||8|
(updated 10.30.2011 at 8:21 AM EDT)
Fans of the Devils, Rangers, and Islanders shouldn't get too hung up on being so bunched together so early in the season. They have games in hand on the Flyers and many more on the Penguins. Perhaps this coming week will see one of the three - hopefully the Devils - start to charge up the standings. Let's find out what will happen after the jump.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The exception were the Penguins. They made the most of their two games with the Islanders and were hanging with Toronto until the third period, where they lost the game. As disappointing as that may be for the Pens faithful, they're still at the top of the division and the Eastern Conference. Mathematically, the Flyers can't catch them in this week but they can strike closer with one of their games in hand. Additionally, the Rangers and Devils can pull themselves away from the Islanders with that extra game they'll play this week.
What will those games be? Let's look at the week ahead for the teams of the Atlantic Division to find out:
|PIT||@ SJS||@ LAK|
|PHI||@ BUF||vs. NJD||vs. CBJ|
|NYR||vs. SJS||vs. ANA||vs MTL|
|NJD||vs. TOR||@ PHI||vs. WPG|
|NYI||vs. WPG||vs. WSH|
There's only one intra-division game in this coming week and it's a doozy: the Devils will visit Philadelphia on November 3. The Flyers really could use those points not only just to beat on their rivals but also to attempt to catch the Penguins, who have a tough two road games coming up. The Devils really could use some revenge for opening night and help out their own cause by finally getting a win within the division this season. The need for a win for both will also depend on how they do on the night before. Not to disrespect the Sabres, but the Devils have the tougher match-up as the Leafs have been hot in October.
As for the rest of the division, there's not a lot of action until Wednesday, save for the Rangers' home game against the Sharks. Rangers fans should be loving the home games since they're enjoying a long home-stand after the renovations at the World's Most Overrated Arena. It'll get easier for them after that one, unless the Ducks or Habs really surprise. The Islanders get to wait like Pittsburgh, but won't have to travel as they take on the Jets and Caps.
Anyway, what do you think will happen within the Atlantic in the coming week? Please leave your answer in the comments. Thanks for reading.