Almost everyone in the Atlantic Division can claim they had a real good week. Two teams swept their weekly schedule and two others finished with positive results. Only one team flopped and lost all their games. Unfortunately, that team was the New Jersey Devils.
The good news is that their spot in the division itself hasn't changed all that much. They were fourth and have remained in fourth. The bad news is that since everyone else had successful weeks, even if they won a game or two, they wouldn't have been able to get much closer to anyone else. The Pittsburgh Penguins remain at the top, the New York Rangers remain hot, and the Philadelphia Flyers are still in the picture for first. Meanwhile, the Devils are mired in fourth, hoping the New York Islanders don't get hot.
What will lie ahead for the division? Please continue on after the jump to find out.Again, the other four division teams had great weeks; and so the top three teams in the division really do stand out in the East.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The Penguins remain at the very top and with positive results, they have increased their hold on the Eastern Conference. Yet, it's only three points and they're not that far away from two other challengers in the Atlantic: the Rangers and the Flyers. If the Penguins drop most or all of their games, it is possible that either one of them could surpass Pittsburgh. The Rangers may be the bigger concern from that standpoint since they're one of the hottest teams in hockey with their 5 game winning streak.
In the long run, the real concern shows in the games played column. The Penguins aren't just ahead of them in points, but also in games played. The Flyers have two games in hand on them and the Rangers have a whopping four; eventually, this could prove fateful for Pittsburgh should either team keep pace with them throughout the season. Since all the teams are playing three games this week, the games-in-hand issue will not change.
Going to the bottom of the division, the Islanders got 5 out of 6 points last week and have climbed themselves out of the basement in the East. They're now fourteenth and one point ahead of Carolina. Devils fans should hope the Islanders don't get hot, or at least not while the Devils remain on a losing streak. It seems a bit odd and a bit sad that one losing streak can put the Devils in a grimmer spot in the standings; but that's how it all broke down in the last week.
Moving on, here's the week ahead for the division:
|PIT||vs. BOS||@ PHI||@ NYI|
|NYR||vs. TOR||vs. TBL||@ BUF|
|PHI||@ BUF||vs. PIT||vs. TBL|
|NJD||@ TOR||vs. OTT||vs. MTL|
|NYI||vs. TBL||vs. CHI||vs. PIT|
After a travel-heavy week, all five teams will enjoy at least one home game. There are two intra-division games: the Pennsylvania Rivalry will return on Thursday and the Isles will host the Pens on Saturday. Given that catching Pittsburgh right now is nothing short of a dream, it would be in the Devils' interest for the Penguins to take both games. Besides, who doesn't want Philly lose in general? The other not-Devils team Devils fans should hope to succeed is Tampa Bay. While they're behind the Devils in the East on a losing streak, they can hold the Isles back and pour some cold water on the Rangers and Flyers later in the week.
As for the Devils themselves, the goal is simple: break the losing streak and get points. They'll catch the Maple Leafs on the second-half of a back-to-back, so hopefully the Devils can take full advantage. That is followed by their first games this season against Ottawa and Montreal. The Devils will play those games at home, so perhaps having the final change will help them a little bit in their quest to get out of their current funk.
Will the Devils break their losing streak? How do you see the rest of the Atlantic playing out? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Atlantic Division in the comments. Thanks for reading.