NHL Atlantic Division Notebook: Teams Are Jockeying For Playoff Positions

The NHL season seems to be flying by as we enter our next month in the calendar. Teams in the division are moving around the division like they are playing musical chairs. While the top of the standings have stayed similar throughout the year, many have played themselves in and out of the playoff picture. Some of the most movement happened just in the last week.

NHL Atlantic Division Notebook

A Rejuvenated Habs Team

What a week it was for the Montréal Canadiens. The Habs managed to come away with 10 points from Sunday – Sunday, going 5-0-0 and erupting for 24 goals, including a 10 – 1 shellacking over the Detroit Red Wings.. This run has catapulted them into the playoff picture, where they sit third in the division. We also saw the Vezina trophy winner in Carey Price who was in net for all five contests, and had a save percentage of .961.

With the Canadians breaking out the scoring and Price proving he still has it, this team could be dangerous in the months to come. However, this past week Jonathan Drouin sustained a lower body injury and missed their past two games and was not on the ice for practice this morning. They are in the middle of a homestand, but face one of their toughest stretches yet with St. Louis, Calgary, Edmonton, and New Jersey all coming into town over the next week and a half.

A Long Winter In Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres are 6-17-4 and currently occupy the worst record in the NHL. Their offense sits last in the league in goals for and 30th in goals against. Things stayed the same for the team when they only recorded one goal this past week, going 0-4-0. With the season well out of reach, it’s time to start looking toward the future and that starts with Evander Kane. Kane, 26, is in the last year of his contract and is playing some of the best hockey of his career.  Trading the power forward could bring a good haul in return, and if they were to swallow some of his salary, it could become even greater. They have over $6.80 million in cap space this year before the Eichel deal kicks in. Why not take on as much as possible to help with finishing this rebuild? Our Murph has his own thoughts though.

A Motor City Demise

Last week, I mentioned how the Detroit Red Wings managed to avoid catastrophe by grabbing points in three of their four losses with losses coming in overtime. This week, their struggle continued, losing to the Los Angeles Kings and then twice to the Montréal Canadiens in a home and home series. Those keeping track at home, that’s three points in their last seven games, bringing them to 10-12-5 on the season, landing them fifth in the division. They will have tough tests this week when Winnipeg and St. Louis come to town.

Boston Stays Hot

The Bruins are finding themselves in a great spot. They have won six of the last seven and own the fourth spot in the Atlantic division with a 12-8-4 record. They have four games in hand on the Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, and two in hand on the first place, Tampa Bay Lightning. Their injury report has finally started to shrink. Adam McQuaid is back to skating  and is eyeing a return this month. Rask, who was in net for the teams last three contests, has looked better and recorded the teams first shutout against Philadelphia. Package everything together and the Boston Bruins can be a team the entire league notices.

This two-game road trip to Philadelphia and Nashville has been the annual “Dad’s Trip” for the team. The Boston Bruins twitter page capture this great photo from Saturday.

Quick Notes:

– The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to have a firm grip on the top spot in the Atlantic division after capturing four points in three games this past week. However, Steven Stamkos has only recorded two points in the teams last seven and was taken over by his teammate, Nikita Kucherov, for the league leader in points.

– The Ottawa Senators started their seven-game road trip, going 1-2-0 in this past week. Their 24 points has been sixth in the division, one point behind the Detroit Red Wings. With two games in hand on the wings, they have the opportunity to leapfrog into the fifth spot. With four more games remaining on their road trip, it’s peril they return home with both points if they want to avoid falling too far behind.

Read More: 

NHL Trade Rumors: Are Boston and Edmonton Talking Trade? 

Photo Credit: By Kristina Servant from Montreal, Canada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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