Feb 9, 2011, 9:00 PM EDT
With the All-Star break over, it’s time for the NHL playoff races to intensify. Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division’s outlook. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.
Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.
Atlantic Division outlook (February 9-15)
1. Philadelphia Flyers (35-13-5 for 75 pts; 53 Games Played)
Current streak: Two wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. Carolina (Thursday), home vs. Los Angeles (Saturday), @ Tampa Bay (Tuesday).
Thoughts: The Flyers have a three point lead on the Penguins and two games in hand. Is it too early to wonder if they have the Atlantic in the bag already?
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-17-4 for 72 pts; 55 GP)
Current streak: Two straight losses.
Week ahead: Home vs. Los Angeles (Thurs), @ Islanders (Fri), @ Rangers (Sun).
Thoughts: Sure, it’s only two losses, but the Penguins looked pretty punch-less in their defeats to the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets. This week might determine when/if Ray Shero needs to make a move.
3. New York Rangers (29-23-4 for 62 pts; 56 GP)
Current streak: Five losses in a row.
Week ahead: @ Atlanta (Fri), home vs. Pittsburgh (Sun)
Thoughts: For a while it seemed like the Rangers were in a comfortable middle-of-the-playoff-pack position, but now they’re all the way down to seventh place. They need to get their acts together to avoid falling into a race for the last two playoff spots with the Thrashers and Hurricanes.
4. New Jersey Devils (20-30-4 for 44 pts; 54 GP)
Current streak: Two wins.
Week ahead: @ Toronto (Thurs), home vs. San Jose (Fri)
Thoughts: Could the Devils actually fight for a playoff spot? They’ll need to maintain their 2011 pace for the rest of the season to even have a prayer of doing so.
5. New York Islanders (17-29-7 for 41 pts; 53 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: @ Montreal (Thurs), home vs. Pittsburgh (Fri), @ Buffalo (Sun), @ Ottawa (Tues).
Thoughts: Well, at least they should be able to get a lottery pick.
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center 9
- Eric Staal has surgery to repair ‘core muscle injury’ 3
- After not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with Carlyle, Reimer will compete for No. 1 gig 10
- Two down, one to go: Wings ink Tatar to three-year, $8.25M deal 11
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal 63
- Subban not eager to discuss contract talks 33
- Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million 22
- Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal 13
- Eller, Habs agree to four-year, $14 million contract 10
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 7
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (69)
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain (45)
- Arena deal in jeopardy? Glendale mayor requests investigation into ‘clear violation’ of state law (42)
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal (42)