This Week In The NHL's Atlantic Division: 10/29/13
A three-game winning streak and a game in hand on the Maple Leafs allowed cross-state rival Tampa Bay to lay claim to the top spot in the division.
This recap covers the period from October 21st to October 28th
Tampa Bay Lightning: It wasn't easy, but the Lightning (8-3-0) swept all three of their games this week to claim the top spot in the Atlantic. The Bolts went to overtime to best the Blackhawks by a goal, edged the Sabres 3-2, and despite blowing a two-goal lead on the road against the Panthers, managed to squeak out another win in the shootout. Steven Stamkos leads the team in scoring with 17 points (8G/9A). Ben Bishop posted the wins against Chicago and Buffalo to run his record to 7-1 on the season. Anders Lindback picked up his first win of the year against Florida. Tampa Bay has scored 39 goals and allowed 31.
10/24 @Tampa Bay 6 Chicago 5 (OT)
10/26 @Tampa Bay 3 Buffalo 2
Trending: Up. The Lightning successfully shook off the 5-0 pasting they took from the Bruins to post three-straight wins. As long as Bishop continues to play well, the team has a nice mix of scoring and stopping going on. This week, Tampa Bay will travel to New Jersey and Carolina before returning home to face St. Louis.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs (8-4-0) went 2-1 this week. They defeated two of the best teams in the league, Anaheim and Pittsburgh, but dropped a road decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Phil Kessel leads the team with 14 points (7G/7A). Jonathan Bernier posted the win versus the Ducks and took the loss against the Blue Jackets, while backup James Reimer was stellar against the Penguins. Toronto has scored 40 goals and given up 30.
10/25 @Columbus 5 Toronto 2
10/26 @Toronto 4 Pittsburgh 1
Trending: Up. The Leafs righted the ship, after a couple of middling weeks, with very impressive wins over Anaheim and Pittsburgh. With the Columbus game coming in between those tilts, a let down probably should have been expected. This week sees the Leafs visit Western Canada for three games, so we should get a better feel for what kind of team Toronto will be on the road, where they are currently 3-2, this season.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins (7-3) continued their solid start to the season by posting a 2-1 record this week. Chad Johnson finally got some time in goal and backstopped the club to an easy 5-2 win over Buffalo. David Krecji's last second goal gave the B's a big 2-1 victory over the Sharks at home. However, the week ended on a bit of a sour note as Boston blew a lead a first period lead and ended up losing to the Devils. The loss ended a four-game winning streak. David Krejci paces the Bruins offense with 12 points (2G/10A). Tuukka Rask continues to shine in a goal, his performance against New Jersey merely a hiccup in what is looking like a Vezina-worthy campaign so far. Boston has tallied 30 goals and only surrendered a Conference-best 17.
Trending: Steady. The Bruins continue to look good and will be even better once the offense finally kicks into full gear. Boston was the first team this season to hand the Sharks a loss in regulation time. The Bruins have a tough week in front of them with games against Pittsburgh (road) and Anaheim (home) on back-to-back nights. The B's finish off the week at home on the road against the Islanders and their new acquisition, Thomas Vanek.
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens (7-5-0) finished off a busy week with a 2-2 record, with all games coming on home ice. The Habs suffered an embarrassing 4-3 loss to Edmonton before posting a solid win against Anaheim. The visiting Sharks posted a shutout win over Montreal before the Canadiens rebounded to blank the road-weary New York Rangers. P.K. Subban leads the team in scoring with 11 points (2G/9A), while Carey Price contunued his strong netminding. Backup Peter Budaj came up with the shutout against the Rangers. Montreal has scored 35 goals and given up just 22.
10/28 @Montreal 2 New York Rangers 0
Trending: Down. The Canadiens seem to have leveled off after a strong start to the season. The offense is sputtering a bit and the club has now dropped three of its last five games. This week, Montreal will play host to Dallas before heading out on the road to do battle with Minnesota and Colorado.
Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings (6-4-2) played three games at home this week and lost them all, although they did manage to pick up the loser point twice. The club wasted a strong performance from Jimmy Howard in losing a 1-0 shootout decision to old rivals, the San Jose Sharks. The visiting Senators blasted Detroit 6-1, and the Wings ended the week with an overtime loss to the struggling Rangers. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg lead the team in scoring with 12 points apiece. Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson continue to provide good goaltending, but the offense is not providing enough support. Detroit has only scored 27 goals while allowing 33.
10/21 San Jose 1 @Detroit 0 (SO)
10/23 Ottawa 6 @Detroit 1
10/26 New York Rangers 3 @Detroit 2 (OT)
Trending: Down. The Red Wings fell from first to fifth place, and are currently riding a four-game losing streak. The team's record at home, 3-2-2, is a serious cause for concern. Too many Wings are failing to find the back of the net. Offseason acquisition Stephen Weiss has been a disappointment thus far. The Red Wings head north of the border with games against Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton this week.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators (4-5-2) started the week off with a rousing 6-1 road win over Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings. The team returned home and was promptly beaten by Western Conference powers Anaheim and San Jose. Jason Spezza leads the team in scoring with 11 points (7G/4A). Craig Anderson started all three games for the Sens. Ottawa has scored 30 goals while allowing 32.
Trending: Down. The Senators continue to be mediocre this season and need to get it together soon if they want to keep up with the better teams in the division. Ottawa has only won once in four home games so far. This week, the Senators visit Chicago before returning home to face the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers (3-7-2) continued a long homestand this week and went 0-1-2. The club lost Tim Thomas and dropped a shootout decision to the Blackhawks. Jacob Markstrom took over the starting duties and the Cats found a way to lose to Buffalo, and rallied to forge a 3-3 tie with Tampa Bay before falling in another shootout. Tomas Fleischmann has the team lead in points with 9 (2G/7A). Jacob Markstrom was merely adequate filling in for Thomas, and looked like easy prey for Chicago and Tampa Bay in the shootout. Florida has scored 26 goals and given up a Conference-worst 42.
10/22 Chicago 3 Florida 2 (SO)
10/27 Tampa Bay 4 @Florida 3 (SO)
Trending: Down a bit. The Panthers continued on their win one - lose three pattern, although they managed to pick up two points this week by getting to the shootout. The club continues to struggle to score goals and looks downright horrendous on the power play. It looks like the Cats need a healthy Tim Thomas back to have any chance of remaining on the periphery of the playoff chase. The Panthers finish off their homestand on Friday against the St. Louis Blues, who hammered them earlier this season, before visiting old Southeastern foe, the Washington Capitals.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres (2-11-1) picked up another win, but dropped three more games this week and are now the NHL's worst team with only 5 points. The club traded star Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, who scored twice in his Buffalo debut, and two draft picks. Moulson now has 11 points on the season, while Cody Hodgson has notched 10 points. Ryan Miller continues to try hard despite having little to show for it, and backup Jhonas Enroth absolutely stole two points from the Panthers. Buffalo has scored 23 goals while allowing 41.
Trending: Down slightly. The Sabres parted ways with Vanek and got back good return from the Islanders. Moulson scored twice in the game against the Stars but it wasn't enough to produce a win. Buffalo seems destined to have the best chance to win the first overall pick in the draft lottery. It's a light week for the Sabres as they journey south to the newly-renovated Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers before hosting the Anaheim Ducks.