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Northeast Division Watch (March 3)

Mar 3, 2011, 11:15 AM EDT

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Zdeno Chara, Steve Kampfer, Roman Hamrlik, Max Pacioretty AP

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 (March 3 -March 9th)

1. Boston Bruins (37-19-7 for 81 pts; 63 Games Played)

Current streak: Six straight wins.

Week ahead: Home vs. Tampa Bay (Thursday), home vs. Pittsburgh (Saturday) and @ Montreal (Tuesday).

Thoughts: After putting together their best road trip since 1972, the Bruins get a couple home games … unfortunately it’s against some tough opponents. After that, they’ll play five of their last six games away from home, so their division lead isn’t a sure thing.

2. Montreal Canadiens (34-23-7 for 75 pts; 64 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: @ Florida (Thurs), @ Tampa Bay (Sat), home vs. Boston (Tues).

Thoughts: The Habs are in the middle of a tour of the non-traditional Southeast Division teams (everyone but the Washington Capitals) before the play what could be a big game against the Bruins. They need to work on their road game, though, being that they’re currently below .500 (14-15-1) away from Montreal.

3. Buffalo Sabres (30-25-7 for 67 pts; 62 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Four road games – vs. Carolina (Thurs), Philadelphia (Sat), Minnesota (Sun) and Pittsburgh (Tues).

Thoughts: The Sabres began their seven-game road trip with a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers. They’re hoping they can match their division mates in Boston for heartiness outside of their home digs. It won’t be easy considering the fact that they play two likely playoff teams from Pennsylvania plus two teams fighting for their playoff lives. The game against Carolina tonight is obviously one of the truest tests.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-27-9 for 65 pts; 64 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Away against Philadelphia (Thurs), home vs. Chicago (Sat) and @ Islanders (Tues).

Thoughts: The Leafs need a big week, as they trail the Hurricanes by four points while the Sabres are two points ahead of them with two less games played. If only they could play against the Penguins more often, as they beat them twice in extra innings (once in a shootout, once in overtime) in the last three games.

5. Ottawa Senators (21-33-9 for 51 pts; 63 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: On the road against Atlanta (Thurs), home vs. Rangers (Fri) and @ New Jersey (Tues).

Thoughts: If the Senators were in playoff contention, playing 10 road games vs. five home contests would make this March a horrible month. Instead, this is a good thing because Ottawa will (probably) lose enough to get a better draft pick. Hopefully they won’t turn on Craig Anderson because of it.

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