Atlantic Watch: 10/19-10/25

To say this was a rough week for the Flyers would be an understatement.

They managed to pull out one victory this week, but it came at the cost of losing Chris Pronger to a nasty eye injury. Embarrassing losses to the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues provided a rough taste of reality for the Flyers, a team that had yet to experience much adversity since their hectic roster shuffle in the offseason.

Despite all the negative aspects of this week for Philly, the Flyers are still second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with 11 points in eight games.

Three Caps’ goals in a 2:25 span in the third period led to the Flyers’ 5-2 home loss to the Capitals on Thursday night. After coming close to tying the game at two several times during the second period, the Flyers fell apart in the third period. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier provided the goals for Philly while Alex Ovechkin had a two-goal night.

Losing two straight games for the first time since Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Flyers lost to the visiting Blues 4-2 on Saturday. Carlo Colaiacovo had the game-winning goal as well as the primary assist on T.J. Oshie’s first-period goal. Danny Briere notched a goal and an assist as well, scoring in the second period and providing the secondary assist on Matt Carle’s goal in the third period. Both the Flyers and the Blues scored a goal in the third period despite the fact the Flyers out shot the Blues 17-5 during those 20 minutes.

Behind the goals of two players who had yet to score this season, the Flyers ended their two-game skid with a 4-2 win at home against the Maple Leafs. Both Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell picked up two goals and an assist on the night. Giroux and Kimmo Timonen had two assists on the night, while Sergei Bobrovsky won his second game of the year with a 24-save effort.

Starting with tonight’s game, the Flyers play three games in four nights. Setting up shop at Bell Centre in Montreal with a 3-0 road record, the Flyers visit the Canadiens for the first time this season. Tomorrow, the Flyers fly back home to host the Winnipeg Jets. To conclude the week, the Flyers host Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Sitting at 5-2-1, the Flyers are in pretty good shape. We expected chemistry issues and lack of experience to hurt this team early on in the season. So far, there have been some minor issues or mistakes, but for the most part this team is looking strong. Playing two, arguably three, easy teams this week, this is a chance for the Flyers to grab six points in three games and gain ground on the Penguins. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-0-0. The Penguins had a productive week winning all of their games and beating two divisional rivals in the process. Leading the Eastern Conference in points, as well as games played, the Pens find themselves at the top of the standings early in the season.

The Pens started off the week with a 3-1 home victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Joe Vitale and Arron Asham scored their first goals of the season, while James Neal registered his seventh goal of the season. Marc-Andre Fleury was 1:36 away from a shutout when Mathieu Darche tipped in a Brian Gionta shot. Deryk Engelland provided the primary assist on both Vitale’s and Asham’s goals.

With three goals coming in the third period, the Penguins were able to claim their third straight game with a 4-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Jordan Staal had two goals while Richard Park had two assists as the Pens put the game away after Patrik Elias tied it early in the third period. Neal had the fourth Pens’ goal of the game for his eighth goal of the season.

Culminating the week with their fourth straight win, the Pens traveled to Long Island and shut out the Islanders 3-0. Fleury made 33 saves in the shutout while Staal had his third goal in two games. Pascal Dupuis was the only player on the night with more than one point as he scored late in the first period and provided the assist on Staal’s empty-net goal. The Penguins have out scored their opposition 14-4 on their current winning streak.

Park led all Pens in points this week with four. Scoring in the second period against the Islanders, Park had three assists on the week. On two of his assists, Staal’s power-play goal in the first period against the Devils and Neal’s third- period goal in the same game, Park had the primary assist.

With just ten assists all of last season, Matt Niskanen had a big week as well. Niskanen was credited with the secondary assist on Asham’s goal against the Canadiens and the secondary assist on Staal’s third-period goal against the Devils.

Forutnate scheduling could land the Pens even higher in the standings if they take advantage this week. Tomorrow night the Pens return home to face the team they just shut out last night when the Islanders visit. The Pens second, and final, game of the week is on the road in Toronto as they take on the Maple Leafs.  

New York Rangers: 2-1-0. The Rangers grabbed four of a possible six points this week with their only loss coming to the Edmonton Oilers. With two wins, the Rangers record improves to 3-2-2 after losing their first three games of the season. The Rangers continue their match ups against Canadian teams as two of their three games are against the Maple Leafs and Senators this week.

After four goals were scored in the first, the fifth goal of the game came with only two seconds left in overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.

Ryan McDonagh registered his second goal of the season 4:58 into OT to give the Rangers their second win of the season and their first win of the season in overtime. Marian Gaborik and Brandon Prust scored within nine minutes of each other in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead before Mark Giordano scored just over two minutes later to tie it.

Two days later, the Rangers dropped a 2-0 decision to the Oilers in Edmonton. Nikolai Khabibulin recorded a 19-save shutout as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted the game-winner halfway through the game at the 10:09 mark in the second period. Corey Potter added on a power-play goal in the third, his first goal in the NHL since he was a member of the Rangers during the 2008-2009 season.

On Monday, the Rangers won 2-1 in Winnipeg. Despite being out shot 13-7 in the final twenty minutes, the Rangers managed to find the game-winning goal off the stick of Ryan Callahan. Ruslan Fedotenko opened the scoring for New York 5:51 into the second period. With the addition of his primary assist on Callahan’s game-winner, Fedotenko was one of two Rangers on the night with two points – Dan Girardi was the other, with two assists.

Giradi and Fedotenko were the only Rangers all week to post more than a point. With only five goals over a three-game span, and all five goals provided by different players, it’s not shocking that only two Rangers found the scoresheet more than once. Although they did play decent goaltenders, the Rangers should have been able to muster out more than five goals all week. It’s not really a point of concern for New York considering they still won two of their three games.

The Blueshirts start the week out by finally playing their home opener tomorrow night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Saturday, the Rangers host the Ottawa Senators. To close out the week, the Rangers host the San Jose Sharks.

New Jersey Devils: 1-1-1. Dropping their first two games of the week, the Devils won on Tuesday for the first time since October 15. The Devils experienced all the extremes this week losing a game by three goals, barely losing in a shootout, and then winning a game by three goals.

Blowing a lead late in the game, the Devils lost to the Sharks 4-3 in a shootout on Friday night. New Jersey was 33 seconds away from their second regulation victory on the season before Joe Pavelski tied it up at three goals apiece. Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils during the shootout, but both Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe netted goals to hand the Sharks the win. The Sharks may have been fortunate to grab the two points, since they had to tie the game in the final minute, but they out shot the Devils 41-19  on the evening (20-5 in the second period).

Traveling to Pittsburgh the next day didn’t help the Devils as they dropped their second straight game losing 4-1 against the Penguins. Elias netted a shorthanded goal early in the second period, but it was the only goal the Devils scored all evening. Fleury had a 23-save effort as Staal posted a two-goal game to hand the Devils their first road loss on the season.

The Horned Ones entered Los Angeles last night to begin a road trip and handed the Kings a 3-0 loss. While Jonathan Quick is currently on a three-game shutout streak, Johan Hedberg was able to pull off a 31-save shutout of his own against Kings’ backup netminder Jonathan Bernier. Dainius Zubrus tallied two goals, while both Petr Sykora and Andy Greene had two assists, to lead the Devils to their first win on the road in regulation this season.

Elias led all Devils in points this week with four points in three games. Scoring one goal in each contest, Elias also added the secondary assist on Zubrus’ first goal against the Kings.

Greene had a big week as well for the Devils. Totaling 19 assists all of last season, Greene already has four assists in seven games this season. With a two-assist game against the Kings, Greene was able to register three assists this week.

Continuing their West Coast swing, the Devils take on two Western Conference teams this week: the Coyotes on Thursday night and the Dallas Stars on Saturday before returning to Newark to start off next week.  

New York Islanders: 0-3-0. The Islanders fell flat on their faces this week to counter a 3-1-0 start, losing all three of their games and also failing to gain a single point in the process. 

Outscored 11-3 this week, the Islanders may experience a five-game losing streak by the end of this upcoming week as their next two games are against two tough teams in the league.

Dumping them 5-1 at home a week earlier, the Islanders were bested by the Lightning 4-1 in Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Vincent Lecavalier registered a goal and an assist while Teddy Purcell had two assists to help the Lightning motor past the Islanders. Michael Grabner scored his second goal on the season with his team down 3-0 in the middle of the third period. The Isles only had 17 shots on net for the entire game – four of those shots came in the second period.

Despite grabbing the lead just a minute into the game, the Islanders lost to the Panthers for a second time this season by the score of 4-2 on Saturday. Mark Streit’s power-play tally 1:01 into the contest gave the Isles a lead until Kris Versteeg scored 14:39 into the first period. John Tavares, who had the secondary assist on Streit’s goal, provided the other goal on the night for Long Island. His sixth goal of the season came just 53 seconds after Matt Bradley provided the go-ahead goal for Florida in the second period.

Last night, the Islanders hosted the Pens and suffered a 3-0 loss. The Penguins scored one goal in each period, with the second-period tally belonging to Park and assisted by Asham, both former Islanders. Fleury posted the 33-save shutout while the Islanders outshot the Penguins by four overall.  

Taking part in every goal scored by his team this week, Streit had three points over the three games. Opening the scoring in the Panthers’ game, Streit also had the primary assists on Grabner’s and Tavares’ goals. P.A. Parenteau had the primary assist on Streit’s goal against Florida. He leads all Islanders with seven assists on the season.

Looking to avenge yesterday’s loss, as well as end their current three-game skid, the Islanders travel to Pittsburgh in hopes to defeat the Penguins tomorrow night. Returning home for the weekend, the Islanders host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.