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Northeast Division Watch (February 17)

Feb 17, 2011, 5:48 PM EDT

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Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.

Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.

Northeast Division outlook (February 17 -23)

1. Boston Bruins (31-19-7 for 69 pts; 57 Games Played)

Current streak: Three losses.

Week ahead: Three away games: vs. Islanders (Thursday), vs. Ottawa (Friday) and against Calgary (Tuesday).

Thoughts: Initially, it seemed like the Bruins might be in trouble. They’re on a three game skid and start a six-game road trip tonight. Yet four of those games are split between the Islanders, Oilers and Senators, so they could actually improve their status during the tour. It should be interesting to see how they respond to this test.

2. Montreal Canadiens (31-20-7 for 69 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three road games – Edmonton (Thurs), Calgary (Sun) and Vancouver (Tues).

Thoughts: Tonight’s game will be important for the Habs, as they face a tough Northwest Division swing this week. If they can beat the Oilers, they can be (reasonably) satisfied striving for two points between the two games against the Flames and Canucks.

3. Buffalo Sabres (27-23-6 for 60 pts; 56 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three home games – vs. St. Louis (Fri), vs. Washington (Sun) and Atlanta (Wed).

Thoughts: Losing to the Leafs was disappointing, but the Sabres still seem to be onto something. They have a great chance to move themselves deeper into the chase for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, as they have four games remaining on their homestand, including this week’s threesome.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (25-27-6 for 56 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: Two home games – one against Ottawa (Sat), one against the Islanders (Tues).

Thoughts: The Leafs really need these next two games if they really hope to make the playoffs, especially since they face quite a few playoff-caliber teams after these two cellar dwellers. Toronto shouldn’t sleep on the Isles, though, as Michael Grabner is making them a pesky presence lately.

5. Ottawa Senators (18-30-9 for 45 pts; 57 GP)

Current streak: Only one loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Boston (Fri), @ Toronto (Sat) and home vs. Florida (Wed).

Thoughts: The real question is: who else will Bryan Murray trade this week?

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