NHL Atlantic Division Notebook: The Calm Before The Storm

NHL Playoff Standings

This past week had all its regular-season action packed in the forefront as the All-Star festivities commenced in Tampa Bay over the weekend where players took to the ice Saturday night in the skills competition before competing in a three on three tournament on Sunday. Connor McDavid came away with the victory in the fastest skater challenge and rookie Brock Boeser showed his sharpshooting skills, winning the accuracy contest. The Pacific division team beat the Atlantic team in the finals 5-2, after knocking off the Central squad in the semis. Boeser dominated again and came away with the MVP. Not a bad weekend for the kid.



But like I said, there was still regular-season action last week and grabbing two points night in and night out means everything now. It’s been a relatively slow few weeks with the mandatory weeks off and this past weekend. But let’s hope everyone got their rest because the season is about to ramp up. Things are about to get tough. The trade deadline is right around the corner. Is your team going to be a buyer or a seller? How is the locker room going to handle names being the subject of trade rumors? All this noise while still trying to compete for the playoff spot. Buckle up.

Let’s dive in.

Still In Control

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked a great week to get back to their winning ways. They grabbed all six points that were possible and did so on the road in games against Chicago, Nashville, and Philadelphia. These six points were important as the Boston Bruins run has them breathing down the Lightnings neck, just five points out with two games in hand. They were dealt a blow when another player was added to the injury report, this time it being that of left-winger, Ondrej Palat. He suffered a lower body injury and is expected to miss six – eight weeks. Victor Hedman, who has been sidelined three weeks with a knee injury, is now joining the team on a four-game road trip.



No Slowing Down

The Boston Bruins have not lost a game in regulation since December 14th and they weren’t going to let last week be the time when that streak gets snapped. 3-2 wins at home against the New Jersey Devils and away against the Ottawa Senators has pushed their point streak to 18 games, going 14-0-4 in that span. They are going to be tested over the next week, though. Defenseman, Charlie McAvoy underwent a procedure to fix an abnormal heart rhythm and will be out another week and, All-Star, Brad Marchand has four games remaining on his five-game suspension for elbowing. Hopefully, McAvoy can maybe make it back for a pivotal matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Trying To Keep Pace

The Maple Leafs got back on track with back to back road wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars after a loss earlier in the week to the Colorado Avalanche. Those wins bring them to 61 points and third-place in the division. However, Morgan Rielly is still on the IR after injuring his arm. He has missed the last four games then there is still no timetable for his return. Although the Leafs are 3-1-0 without him, it would be silly to think they are a better team without him. He is the anchor of their blue line and his 31 points are fourth best on the team. Like Boston with McAvoy, Rielly could be a huge addition for that game against Boston on Saturday, when home ice in the first round of the playoffs is the incentive.

Sliding and Sliding Fast

The Ottawa Senators have lost five in a row, including getting outscored 3 to 1 in this past week. Their skid over the last two months has seen them plummet in the standings. With the playoffs out of sight, they are all in on the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes, who is a generational defenseman and clear-cut top pick in this year’s NHL draft. If they completely mail it in in the next few weeks and decide to sell big, their chances of that first pick could soar. One can’t help imagine what a starting blue line of Karlsson and Dahlin might look like.

On The Fly:

– The Detroit Red Wings have the let an opportunity, be it a slim opportunity, slip away. They are currently 10 points out of the last wild-card spot. 10, at first read, seems distant. But they are 1-3-1 in their last five and have two games in hand on many of the teams ahead of them. They picked up two points in a great shutout win at the New Jersey Devils at the beginning of the week, but then lost to at home to the Flyers and Blackhawks. They pick back up tomorrow night against the San Jose Sharks.

– The season for the Montréal Canadiens has been lackluster. The playoffs are a dream at this point, but it seems as if the Canadiens aren’t just going to let teams walk over them. In fact, this past week they got to halt The Colorado Avalanches win streak at 10 games. It was the second longest in franchise history. They have 46 points this season and, like the Red Wings, sit 10 points out of the final wild-card spot. It’s going to take a miracle to play into the spring, but while they are at it, might as well play spoiler.

– The Florida Panthers are a young team, with a solid youth core. I don’t think playoffs were ever going to be a definite for this year, they still have time to get better and grow for next year. This past week however, was not it. They were blown out 6-1 by the Dallas Stars then beaten by the Washington Capitals 4-2. It looks like they will have at least top five odds in the draft lottery this year, so next season may have a different tone to it.

– While we’re on the topic of draft lottery, the Buffalo Sabres are only hurting their odds. They happened to string together 3 straight road wins against Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. All three coming with a statement, outscoring the opposition 11-1. They still have a third of the season to fall back on their roots though, and strengthen their spot in the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes.

Read More:

NHL Trade Deadline Rumors: Big Changes For The New York Rangers?

Could Bruins And Penguins Swing A Deal Before 2/26 Trade Deadline?

NHL Trade Rumors

Photo Credit: By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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