Atlantic Watch: 1/19-1/26

Well, coming up on the All-Star break the Philadelphia Flyers are looking pretty good.

With fifty games played so far, the Flyers are 33-12-5 sitting atop the whole NHL with 71 points. In their final game before the break, Philly put a show on against the Canadiens winning 5-2. Despite there being no overwhelming statistics to drive home the point, the Flyers truly dominated each and every part of their last meeting with Montreal. The win was their 2nd in a row and combined with their 6-2 win over Ottawa on Thursday it was their 3rd positive decision in the week.

In a week they could have won all four games, the Flyers went 3-1-0 dropping their Saturday matinee to the Devils 3-1. At this point in time their lackadaisical effort on Saturday doesn’t seem as though it will hurt them much down the road.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with the other four teams in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. After getting shutout by the Devils 2-0 on Thursday, the Penguins won back-to-back games against Carolina on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday. With injuries keeping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out, secondary players need to step up for the Penguins to keep winning. Dustin Jeffrey answered the call this week scoring the first goal in the game against Carolina and assisting on the lone goal against the Islanders. The gap between them and the division leading Flyers widened from three to five points this week. The next game is a visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers Tuesday night.

New York Rangers: 3-1-1. In what was an up and down week for the Rangers, they find themselves still trailing the Penguins for 2nd in the division. The week started off with a thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 where Marian Gaborik scored four goals. However, the next night the Rangers had the beatdown handed to them as they lost to the Hurricanes 4-1. Bouncing back from their game against Carolina, the Rangers posted back-to-back wins in consecutive shootouts. After a late game goal by Brian Boyle to tie the score at two, Mats Zuccarello was the only player to score in the shootout awarding the Rangers a 3-2 win over Atlanta. Two nights later in Washington, the Rangers needed the shootout once again to find a winner. Three Rangers (Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, and Artem Anisimov) scored on Braden Holtby in the shootout to hand them their third and final win of the week. Tuesday night, the Rangers fell to the Southeast’s worst team in the Panthers 4-3. On the Panthers’ lone shot in the third period, an awkward bounce resulted in Florida’s fourth and final goal. Their next game is Tuesday night as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York Islanders: 1-3-0. The Islanders split their two meetings with the Buffalo Sabres this week as they won Friday night 5-2 in Buffalo and then lost 5-3 at home Sunday. Combined with one-goal losses to both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders ended up winning a fourth of their scheduled games this week. Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson both netted three goals in the four games this week while Kevin Poulin grabbed the lone win of the week saving 26 of 28 against Buffalo on Friday. If the Islanders beat the Hurricanes tonight and the Flames lose to the Blues, the Isles will move from 29th in the league to 28th.

New Jersey Devils:  3-0-0. In what has to be the surprise of the week, the Devils registered the best record in the Atlantic division this week. After shutting out the Penguins on Thursday, the Devils ruined the Flyers chance to gain 1,000 home wins by winning 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. Throw in a 5-2 home win against the Florida Panthers and you have a strong week of hockey from the weakest team in the division. Patrik Elias had 3 goals and an assist on the week. Following in the footsteps of Elias, who potted two against Philly, Jason Arnott netted two of his own in the win against Florida on Sunday. Martin Brodeur had the wins against Pittsburgh and Florida while Johan Hedberg beat the Flyers. The Devils have the hard task of visiting the Red Wings tonight.