It certainly wasn't boring in the Atlantic Division last week. The Pittsburgh Penguins faded a bit; the New York Rangers jumped the Penguins on the basis; and the Philadelphia Flyers, despite injuries, continued their winning streak until they hit a brick wall last night. The New York Islanders remain out of the Eastern Conference basement; while the New Jersey Devils are suddenly right behind the Rangers and Penguins.
The Devils are the hottest team in the division with four straight wins and can soon be in a position to make some noise. Will it happen in this coming week? Let's find out after the jump.Here's a brief summary of how the Atlantic Division teams performed and what they can earn in this coming week:
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The New Jersey Devils swept their tough week and are in a . Last Sunday, they were sitting in 12th in the East. Four straight wins later and they're in sixth. I said in last week's snapshot that a hot streak or just consistently productive weeks would see the Devils shoot up in the standings. They're on a hot streak now and the results speak for themselves. The Devils can't let up too much, as they're only four points ahead of 12th place (Montreal). If they can somehow extend this winning streak, then they could really make some noise for the rest of the division.
A big reason for that was the slips by the Rangers and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh hammered Buffalo last night, avoiding a winless week. The Rangers had the opportunity to really get a jump in the standings, but could only settle for a tie with the Penguins. They'll take it since their 40th point came from a last-tenth-of-a-second goal against Phoenix. The Rangers are still in a very favorable spot as they have 2 games in hand on New Jersey and 3 games in hand on Pittsburgh. They'll use one of them in this coming week, so they can still pull ahead.
The Philadelphia Flyers were the hottest team in the East before they ran into Boston yesterday. It's impressive that they maintained that streak without their top scorer and their top defenseman. It speaks to the quality of their team as a whole. That Boston team is just superior and ROW is the only reason why they're not in first place in the East right now. The Flyers will have the same number of games as the Rangers, so they control their own destiny when it comes to maintaining control of the division for a coming week.
As for the Islanders, well, 11 points behind New Jersey isn't a good place to be in. They are at least ahead of Carolina. It's only a point, but hey, it's something.
Here's how the schedule looks for the week ahead for the division:
|PHI||@ COL||@ DAL||@ NYR|
|NYR||@ NJD||vs. NYI||vs. PHI|
|PIT||vs. CHI||@ WPG|
|NJD||vs. NYR||vs. WSH|
|NYI||@ WPG||@ NYR||vs. TOR|
The Rangers get to go into the Christmas holiday break with three intra-division games. Tuesday is the one Devils fans have all been waiting for. The two rivals haven't played each other all season. It would be great if the Devils can beat them in regulation. It would not only have the Devils claw up the standings a little further, but it's always good to disappoint Rangers fans. Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh supporters should also hope for that kind of a result. The Islanders and Flyers will get cracks at the Rangers in consecutive days to close out the week. Again, all good people will be cheering for the Rangers' opponent.
As for the rest of the games,it's a real mix out there. The Flyers will be on the road, going all the way from Colorado to Dallas and then back to the NYC area that's somewhat close to Philadelphia. The Penguins will get a hot Chicago team at home before getting a few days to travel to Winnipeg. The Islanders have a busy week with a trip to Winnipeg before they go to MSG for the first of a back-to-back set. That set ends with a home game against Toronto that Devils fans will be hoping that the Isles get a result out of that one. Lastly, the Devils will close out their relatively short week by hosting Washington for the final time this season.
How do you see the Atlantic Division play out in this coming week? Will the Devils continue their winning streak? Will Pittsburgh jump the Rangers in the standings? Can the Islanders stay away from last in the East? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thanks for reading.