NHL Atlantic Division Notebook: A Two Team Race To The Top

2018 NHL Playoff Race

It’s crazy to think how fast the NHL season is moving along, but here we are, in to February with another week down. For those of us in the New England area, we are all hurting today. Thankfully, there is hockey to take our mind off everything. All signs are pointing to the Atlantic division becoming a two team race down the stretch.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning wrapped up an eight game road trip last night in Edmonton. On this road trip, they have largely taken care of business, going 5-3-0 — though it did end on a sour note with a 6-2 loss to the Oilers. The All-Star break did split the trip in half which gave the team a nice break. After a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets earlier in the week, their offense came alive for a 7-4 win against Calgary and a 4-2 win against Vancouver. They also welcomed back Victor Hedman to the lineup, who had been out the last three weeks within the injury. Getting Hedman back in just three weeks is a huge addition for the Lightning.

Boston Bruins

It seems as if all good things must come to an end. The Boston Bruins point streak was halted at 18 games after the Anaheim Ducks beat them 3-1 on Tuesday. They bounced back in dominant fashion, beating the St. Louis Blues 3-1, then, the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday. The win against the Leafs at this point in the season was crucial, putting them up five points, with four games in hand. The possibility to separate themselves by 10+ points is in the Bruins hand.

Charlie McAvoy returned for the game against Toronto after missing the last two weeks while recovering from a heart procedure. Brad Marchand will return from his suspension on Wednesday when the Bruins take on the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders and New York Rangers on back to back nights, blanking them both. The offense played its part as well, erupting for nine goals. The Leafs did fall to the Bruins on Saturday on the road. Capturing four of six possible points in the week definitely could have been worse, but the two points they dropped to the Bruins are the ones they needed the most. The blue line got Morgan Rielly back for the game against Boston after he missed the last six games with an arm injury.

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers have looked like a brand-new team compared to the week leading up to the All-Star break. They defeated the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres on the road before returning home to beat the Detroit Red Wings over the weekend. Their six point week was led by Harri Sateri, who has gotten the nod in net with Roberto Luongo and James Reimer sidelined with injuries. Sateri has been a completely different goaltender compared to his three starts before the All-Star break, where he allowed 14 goals in three games. He only allowed five in the three games last week.

Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings 2-1-0 week pushed them over the 50 point mark. Unfortunately for them, it happened later in the season than most of the other teams. An impressive win over the San Jose Sharks kicked off the week and it was followed by a win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Things were halted with their loss against the Detroit Red Wings but they were to pick right back up where they left off before, when the Boston Bruins come to town on Tuesday.

Montréal Canadiens

The Canadiens split their four games last week coming out of the All-Star break. After only scoring one goal in their losses to the St. Louis Blues and Carolina hurricanes, the offense caught a spark and had nine goals in the two wins against Anaheim and Ottawa. They currently sit sixth division but are only a point out of the fourth-place spot. They don’t get back to competition until Thursday, when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators were another team that had four games last week. After opening the week with a loss against Carolina, they defeated Anaheim and Philadelphia, needing extra time for both. They ended the week being soundly defeated by the Montréal Canadiens. Bobby Ryan went down with another hand injury and missed the games against the Flyers and Canadiens. It is unsure if he will be able to skate Tuesday night against the Devils.

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres returned to their normal ways this past week rather than continuing on the high that they had prior to the All-Star break. In losses to the Devils, Panthers, and Blues, the Sabres offense only managed to find the back of the net three times. The three games leading to the All-Star break, the Sabres scored 11 goals. Offense is been the biggest struggle for the Sabres this year, as they rank last in the league in goals for. To make matters worse, The Arizona Coyotes matched the Sabres three-game losing streak, so they did not make out any ground on the first overall lottery pick.


Read More:

Puck Wire: Top Hockey News From The Weekend That Was: February 5

NHL Metro Division Notebook: Standings Tightening Up

NHL Trade Rumors 

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

NHL Trade Deadline Rumors: The Case For Trading James van Riemsdyk


Photo Credit: By Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_2410) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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