Atlantic Watch: 2/16-2/22

In the Flyers’ four games this week they posted a record of 2-1-1. Philly won two games this week, 4-2 Wednesday against Florida and 4-2 Sunday against the Rangers, but unfortunately they lost more than just two games this week. Blair Betts, Sean O’Donnell, and Oskars Bartulis all went down with injuries this week.

Feeling the high of scoring a short-handed goal to get his team back into the game Friday, Betts shortly felt a low having to leave the game with a cut on his right hand. Betts, who missed part of the 3-2 loss in Carolina, also missed Philly’s match ups with the Rangers and Coyotes this week due to the laceration. He’s expected back in the line up later in the week.

O’Donnell left in the first period of Sunday’s win in New York with an injury relating to his knee. The incident occurred after being tripped and falling into the corner in Philly’s defensive zone. He was originally diagnosed as being out for 10-14 days, but Paul Holmgren now says O’Donnell could play on Thursday against the Islanders.

Playing for the first time since January 11, Bartulis was filling in for the injured O’Donnell before he too found his way to the locker room due to an injury. As he stood over Sergei Bobrovsky after a low-key play, Bartulis was hit after the whistle by former Flyer Scottie Upshall. The hit sent Bartulis flying into the boards and resulted in a shoulder injury. The extent of Bartulis’s injury should be determined today as he will be given an MRI.

Aside from the injuries, the Flyers were able to grab 5 out of a possible 8 points this week. Danny Briere led the way with one goal and four assists this week including a three-point game in Florida on Wednesday (1 goal, 2 assists). Despite their being twelve Flyers’ goals this week, only one Flyer had more than one goal. Claude Giroux netted a power-play goal on Sunday and the game tying goal with a little over a minute left in regulation last night against the Coyotes forcing the game to overtime; Shane Doan scored two minutes and forty-one seconds into the extra period leaving Philly with a point.

The upcoming week seems to be a lot less challenging for Philly as the only games they have are against the Islanders and Senators. Now that we know how well the Flyers did this week let’s look at the rest of the division.

Pittsburgh Penguins:  1-1-1. The biggest news of the week coming out of Pittsburgh has to be acquisition of James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Sending defense man Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars, the Pens picked up a forward in Neal who has twenty-one goals and eighteen assists so far this season. Niskanen has six assists in forty-five games.

With the exception of the trade, the past week for the Pens went from good to bad. After posting a 3-2 overtime win in Colorado on Wednesday, the Pens lost 3-2 to the Blackhawks on Sunday in a shootout and then didn’t gain any points in a 1-0 loss to Washington the following day.

Pittsburgh’s lone win of the week wasn’t all that impressive either as they needed a power-play goal in extra time to edge out a team in the midst of a ten-game losing streak.

Jordan Staal had a goal and two assists as he took part in three of Pitt’s five goals within the week. After scoring the game tying goal in the Avalanche game, Staal set up Tyler Kennedy for the game winning goal in overtime. Adding onto that, he also stood up for Matt Cooke after the Caps’ Matt Bradley laid him out in the corner. The fact of whether Staal standing up for his notoriously cheap teammate is a good or bad thing is still up for debate.

The Pens’ upcoming week starts off rough as they host the San Jose Sharks tonight. The Sharks are currently on a four-game winning streak after beating the Red Wings 4-3 last night.

New York Rangers: 2-2-0. The Rangers started turning things around this week as they posted multiple wins within a seven day span. The Rangers’ 4-3 shootout win over the Kings on Thursday paired with a 4-3 shootout win over Carolina yesterday kept New York at five-hundred this week.

Adding on to their long list of injury problems this season, Marian Gaborik left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Gaborik didn’t play in Tuesday’s game against Carolina and the team isn’t sure if he’ll be back this week.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, both of their losses came against divisional opponents. Both Johan Hedberg, who posted a sixteen save shutout on Friday, and Brian Boucher, who made thirty-six of thirty-eight saves on Sunday, made it difficult for the Blueshirts to rack up enough goals in either game for a win.

Wojtek Wolski came through for the Rangers last night as he led New York to their shootout win in Carolina. After netting the game tying goal with under two minutes left in regulation, Wolski made his shootout attempt to give the Rangers the additional point. Wolski also had the opening goal in Sunday’s game against Philly.

After eeking out two shootout wins, the upcoming week could treat NY horribly. A trip to Washington on Friday along with a visit from Tampa Bay, the Rangers could see the gap widen between them and the Penguins in the race for second in the division.

New Jersey Devils: 4-0-0. Going unbeaten yet again, the Devils post the best record within the division. Two wins over the Hurricanes in addition to shutouts against the Rangers and Stars allowed the Devils to obtain every possible point this week.

Johan Hedberg has to take a lot of the credit for the Devils’ wins this week. After Martin Brodeur went down with a knee injury, Hedberg stepped up and performed well in all four games this week. Two shutouts, a one-goal game, and a two-goal game summarize the work of a goaltender who deserves a lot more recognition around the league.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Nick Palmieri all had a strong string of performances this week. Kovalchuk had two goals, one of which was the game winner against the Rangers on Friday, along with two assists.

Elias had the game winning goal against the Hurricanes along with an assist. He’d add on two more assists over the next three games.

Palmieri had the game winning goal against the Stars on Tuesday scoring the only goal of the game late in the third period. He’d provide two assists on the week as well.

The Devils will see nothing but the Southeast division this week as they play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Both of the games are in Florida.

New York Islanders: 2-2-0. Wins over the Kings and Panthers were sandwiched between losses to the Bruins and Maple Leafs as the Islanders broke even this week.

Nathan Lawson handed the game to the Bruins on Thursday as he allowed five goals on eighteen shots before being pulled just before three minutes had passed in the second period.

A 3-0 victory on Saturday against the visiting Kings and a 5-1 romping of the Panthers made for a great weekend on Long Island. However, the thrill of back-to-back wins with a goal differential of +7 was short-lived as the Isles allowed a late third period goal to Phil Kessel losing 2-1 in Toronto last night.

Playing in three games over a four day span, Al Montoya stopped seventy-eight of eighty-one shots. After posting a thirty-five save shutout on Saturday, Montoya only allowed one goal to the Panthers. Unfortunately, allowing two goals yesterday was too much as the Isles were only able to muster one goal in response.

Matt Moulson was the Islander of the week as he had six goals and an assist over the four game span. With a two-goal effort on Saturday against the Kings and a hat-trick against the Panthers on Monday, Moulson played a key role in the Isles’ two victories this week.

The Islanders will be tested this week as they visit the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday to take on the Flyers and then have back-to-back games against the Caps on Saturday and Tuesday.