After a long time at the top, the Pittsburgh Penguins have fallen from first place in the Atlantic Division. Yes, there's actual movement for this week's edition of the Atlantic Division shapshot. The Philadelphia Flyers are in first, the New York Rangers are close behind the Pennsylvania teams, and the New Jersey Devils are now in the mix.
Poor New York Islanders - in the basement again. Nevertheless, all five Atlantic Division teams will be busy this week and some of these games are actually intra-divisional matchups. Appreciate what the division looks like now because it could be radically different next Sunday. Please continue on after the jump for a closer look at what has happened and what will happen in this coming week.The Philadelphia Flyers had a full week of games on their schedule and won most of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins also a few games but only won one of them. While the Flyers didn't jump the Pens in points, Philly's one game in hand gives them the advantage - and first in the division.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The Rangers are in an interesting spot. While they finally lost a game on Saturday in Montreal, the strength of their seven-game winning streak plus the schedule puts them in a good spot. They're only two points behind Philly and Pittsburgh with two and three games in hand on them respectively. What's more is that they'll pick up another game in hand on each of them after this week, as well as another game in hand on the Devils, who are right behind them. The Rangers couldn't be in a better spot to make some moves in the standings later in the season.
As for the Devils, I've said that they just need to keep pace and so far they've done just that. While they remain ninth in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the division, they're only 4 points behind the current division and conference leader. The East is a gloriously tight race right now and a team that breaks off a winning streak - like Boston or the Rangers - immediately jumps up. For those teams who just keep having positive weeks like the Devils, they remain in the mix. Like the Rangers, they have games in hand on some of those teams ahead of them, so they schedule has benefited them. It also means that they just need to keep on "keeping on." Eventually, they'll be moving up in the standings when those in front of them eventually slip.
That opportunity within the division could come soon for the Devils. Check out what each team in the Atlantic has to deal with in this coming week.
|PHI||vs. CAR||@ NYI||vs. MTL||@ NYR|
|PIT||vs. NYI||vs. STL||vs. OTT||@ MTL|
|NYR||@ FLA||@ WSH||vs. PHI|
|NJD||@ FLA||vs. CBJ||@ NYI||vs. NYI|
|NYI||@ PIT||vs. PHI||vs. NJD||@ NJD|
The Islanders have been woeful, only winning one game last week and two out of their last ten games. They're solidly in last place in the division and in the basement of the East along with Carolina. Regardless, they will have a big say on how the Atlantic will look by next Sunday. All four of their games are within the division. Ideally, we'd like them to shock the Penguins and the Flyers and drop the back-to-back with our favorite team. That's asking a lot, but stranger things have happened before. Let's hope the Isles can do the Devils a solid.
The other intra-division game comes on Saturday between the Rangers and Flyers. Given their position in the standings and the fact they are our most hated and second most hated rivals, there really isn't a clear cut team to root for. I guess the one who comes into this game worse off from this week. That would likely be the Rangers as they're facing Florida and Washington instead of the two worst teams in the East and Montreal like Philly. Me, I'll be cheering for the meteor. So will Penguins fans - whose team can claw their way back to the top in this week.
Going back to the Devils, they have to avoid some trap games in this week. They'll first finish their road trip against Southeast Division leaders Florida (yeah, really). After that, they get to host Columbus, the worst team in the NHL. This is followed by a back-to-back with the worst team in the East, the Islanders. None of these three games should be taken for granted; especially the back-to-back. The Isles may not be going places in 2011-12, but they still put in good efforts - seemingly quite a bit against New Jersey in recent seasons.
Will the Devils put in another positive week of results? How do you see the rest of the Atlantic playing out? Will your DVR get a workout on Friday and Saturday? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Atlantic Division in the comments. Thanks for reading.