New Jersey saw their winning streak end this week but they split their four games to remain on top of the Atlantic Division. The margin is as thin as possible: one point over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins will play later today so by the time you see this post, Pittsburgh may take back the throne. The important matter is that both teams still hold larger leads over the other three teams in the Atlantic.
|New York Rangers||13||7||5||1||15|
|New York Islanders||14||6||7||1||13|
(updated 2.16.2013 at 11:00 PM EST)
Among the bottom three, the New York Rangers and their big advantage of games in hand just have two points ahead of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders pulled themselves out from the bottom with two straight wins after breaking a losing streak against their hated cross-city rivals. Since Philly has played two more games than the Isles, they lose that tiebreaker and so start this week in last.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
The Devils faithful have reason to be concerned about the team's position. Yes, they're still at the top of the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference. Splitting their games, including that win over Pittsburgh, was enough for this week. However, 50% of all points per week won't be enough to keep them in first. Pittsburgh had a good week and they are the closest threat.
The Rangers had a really good week. Their only loss was in a shootout with the Islanders, so they picked up 5 out of 6 possible points. They're still a bit behind the Penguins and Devils so they can't catch either this week. That is, unless either team loses most of their points and they win more of their games. The Islanders broke a five-game losing streak with wins over the Rangers and Devils so they could be on the up. The Flyers are near the end of a six-game road trip and just lost back-to-back to New Jersey and Montreal to end their week with a losing record.
|NJD||vs. OTT||@ WSH||@ WSH|
|PIT||@ BUF||vs. PHI||vs. FLA|
|NYR||vs. WSH||vs. MTL||@ OTT||@ MTL|
|NYI||vs. PHI||@ OTT||@ MTL||@ BUF|
|PHI||@ NYI||@ PIT||vs. FLA||vs. WPG|
The Flyers will end their road trip with inter-divisional games, the only two in this upcoming week. They will first go to Long Island and then go into Pittsburgh for what could be a nasty rivalry game on national TV. At least they'll get two home games with Southeast Division teams. However, they're on the wrong side of games played early on so they need to pick up their play quickly unless they fall further behind.
Most of the games played by the Atlantic Division teams will be outside of the division this week. Pittsburgh has Buffalo today and Florida later in the week, so they have real good schedule on paper to make a move for first. The Devils get the second crack at a Karlsson-less Ottawa team before two straight road games against the Capitals. That could work out well for the Devils provided they don't penalize themselves to doom. That Ottawa team will join Montreal as teams with three games against the Atlantic Division this week. After New Jersey, the Sens will see the Islanders on the next night and then head to MSG on Thursday. A tougher Canadiens team will get the Rangers, Islanders, and then the Rangers again.
What do you think will happen in the Atlantic Division this week? Who will be first in the Atlantic by the end of this week: New Jersey or Pittsburgh? Can the Rangers fend off the Islanders and Flyers, or will they slip back to a three-way-fight at the bottom? What do you expect the Devils to do with a now lighter schedule of games? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was (and ahead) in the Atlantic Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.