Things Are Heating Up in The Atlantic: Atlantic Division Weekly Recap

Current Atlantic Division standings. (Photo: Google.com)

Current Atlantic Division standings. (Photo: Google.com)

Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings are currently on losing streaks yet they still manage to sit a top the Atlantic division, at least for the time being as things appear to be getting very interesting and highly competitive within the division.

With that said, let’s do what we always do this early in the week and take a look at the past week’s action within the division. As always teams are listed in the order of their current standing in the division.

 

DETROIT RED WINGS

The Red Wings have lost a couple in a row but still find themselves in great shape and tied with Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

The Red Wings have lost a couple in a row but still find themselves in great shape and tied with Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

Record:17-7-7 (41 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? The Red Wings have lost two in a row but thankfully they’ve gone 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and still remain tied atop the Atlantic with the Tampa Bay Lightning, at least for now. Their schedule this week isn’t too strong and all of their games will be at home so I expect for the Wings to get back on track this week.

Who’s hot? Swedish sensation Gustav Nyquist is currently riding a 3-game point streak in which he’s recorded 2 goals and an assist. While the rest of the team may be slowing down a bit Nyquist is heating up and it just may be the spark the Red Wings need to start stringing wins together again.

Who’s not? After seemingly coming back to life this year, Stephen Weiss came crashing back down to earth as he’s landed himself back on the IR (shoulder) once again after going pointless in his last 3 games. It’s a tough blow for the Red Wings and Weiss after the veteran center had appeared to have possibly revived his career.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Friday 12/19 vs. New York Islanders and Sunday 12/21 vs. Colorado Avalanche.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been struggling of late and things may get worse with the potential loss of goalie Ben Bishop to injury. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been struggling of late and things may get worse with the potential loss of goalie Ben Bishop to injury. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

Record: 19-10-3 (41 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? Like Detroit, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to be just fine despite losing a few games in a row. It also sounds as though they’ve averted a potential disaster with the news that stud goaltender Ben Bishop’s lower body injury doesn’t appear to be that serious and he shouldn’t be on the shelf too long.

Who’s hot? Youngster Nikita Kucherov has 5 points in his last 3 games to give the Russian winger 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 32 games this season. Needless to say but Kucherov is well on his way to a career year after already blowing by his rookie season total 18 points in 52 games. He’s the real deal and just another weapon at Tampa’s disposal.

Who’s not? Steven Stamkos appears to have gone ice cold at the moment considering he has just 2 points in his last 4 games (funny how that qualifies as “cold” for Stammer) to go with an unsightly -5 rating. Even with his struggles however, Stamkos hasn’t stopped pulling the trigger as he still managed to fire 12 shots on net in that span. He’ll be back to piling up points in no time.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 at Philadelphia Flyers, Friday 12/19 at New Jersey Devils and Saturday 12/20 at New York Islanders.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

PK Subban and the Montreal Canadiens put a beatdown on the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings last week. (Photo:  USA TODAY Sports)

PK Subban and the Montreal Canadiens put a beatdown on the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings last week. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

Record: 19-10-2 (40 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? The Canadiens have gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, however they have been winners in their last two which included an impressive 6-2 thumping of the Los Angeles Kings. They’re chugging along and with Carey Price backstopping them they’ll continue to find themselves in the thick of things.

Who’s hot? Rookie Sven Andrighetto scored in his professional debut and he hasn’t looked back since entering the Canadiens lineup for an injured Lars Eller. Andrighetto is currently riding a 3-game point streak (meaning he’s registered a point in every game he’s played in so far as a pro) which includes 2 goals and 1 assist. He’s certainly making a case to hang around even when Eller returns.

Who’s not? Once the Canadiens most powerful weapon, their power-play currently ranks 21st in the league and no longer scares anyone. We’ve seen teams be successful in the regular season and in the playoffs without a deadly or consistent PP unit, but I’m sure Montreal would love to solve that problem before it really becomes one.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday 12/18 vs. Anaheim Ducks and Saturday 12/20 vs. Ottawa Senators.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

The Toronto Maple Leafs are absolutely on fire right now as they've ripped off 5 wins in a row. (Photo: AP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are absolutely on fire right now as they’ve ripped off 5 wins in a row. (Photo: AP)

Record: 18-9-3 (39 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? Serious question? The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their last 5 games while outscoring their opponents 19-8. They’ve also gone 8-1-1 in their last games, so yeah, I’d say they are currently on the rise for sure.

Who’s hot? Speedy playmaker/goal-scorer Phil Kessel continues to produce points in bunches as he’s currently riding a 4-game point streak during which he’s recorded 2 goals and 2 assists. He also has 8 points in his last 8 games, that’s just Kessel being Kessel.

Who’s not? Despite playing alongside Kessel, Tyler Bozak has managed just 1 point in his last 4 games. He’s firing plenty of pucks at the net (12 in that 4-game span) however the production just simply hasn’t been there somehow.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 vs. Anaheim Ducks, Thursday 12/18 at Carolina Hurricanes and Saturday 12/20 vs. Philadelphia Flyers.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

The Florida Panthers are starting to come together and play some very good hockey. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

The Florida Panthers are starting to come together and play some very good hockey. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

Record: 12-8-8 (32 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? That Panthers have gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and currently find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. They’re a young team and at times inconsistent, but as they’ve shown in spurts they have plenty of talent.

Who’s hot? Veteran forward Sean Bergenheim has 3 points in his last 2 games and has started providing some much needed secondary scoring for the Panthers.

Who’s not? Power forward Jimmy Hayes appeared on his way towards a breakout year for Florida but he’s since slowed down mightily with just 1 point (1 goal) in his last 5 games to go with a -4 rating.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 vs. Washington Capitals, Thursday 12/18 at Philadelphia Flyers and Saturday 12/20 at Pittsburgh Penguins.

BOSTON BRUINS

It's not the best of times in Boston right now for the Bruins and a roster shakeup may be headed their way. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It’s not the best of times in Boston right now for the Bruins and a roster shakeup may be headed their way. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Record: 15-13-2 (32 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? The Bruins have lost 2 in a row while going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and are clearly on a downwards slide having been passed by the Maple Leafs and Panthers in the Atlantic. Trade rumors have been swirling all year in Boston and they only intensify with each passing game in which the Bruins struggle to score goals. They did get captain Zdeno Chara back from a knee injury and center David Krejci appears very close to getting back in the lineup, but regardless the Bruins are slipping.

Who’s hot? When you’ve lost 7 of your last 9, it’s hard to pick out a player that’s playing particularly well. Boston needs to be better and soon or they could find themselves well out of the playoff picture.

Who’s not? See “Who’s hot?”.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 at Nashville Predators, Wednesday 12/17 at Minnesota Wild, Friday 12/19 at Winnipeg Jets and Sunday 12/21 vs. Buffalo Sabres.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Bobby Ryan and the Ottawa Senators have struggled for most of the season and because of it head coach Paul MacLean lost his job. (Photo: Getty Images)

Bobby Ryan and the Ottawa Senators have struggled for most of the season and because of it head coach Paul MacLean lost his job. (Photo: Getty Images)

Record: 12-12-6 (30 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? Like the Bruins, the Senators have also gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. But unlike the Bruins, the Senators managed to get their head coach Paul MacLean fired. Maybe the coaching change sparks Ottawa, but I just don’t see it and they should continue to find themselves outside of the playoff hunt.

Who’s hot? Star forward Bobby Ryan has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last 4 games to go with a +3 rating. The Senators will need that to keep up and then some if they wish to make the playoffs this year.

Who’s not? Captain Erik Karlsson has just 1 point (1 goal) in his last 4 games and that goes alongside a -3 rating. Despite the lack of production, Karlsson has fired a whopping 24 shots on goal in that span while averaging about 30 minutes of ice time a night. The points should start piling up again soon if he keeps that pace up.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Wednesday 12/17 at New Jersey Devils, Friday 12/19 vs. Anaheim Ducks and Saturday 12/20 at Montreal Canadiens.

BUFFALO SABRES

Don't look now but the Buffalo Sabres have won 4 games in a row. (Photo: AP)

Don’t look now but the Buffalo Sabres have won 4 games in a row. (Photo: AP)

Record: 13-6-2 (28 points)

Are they on the rise or the fall? Once again the Sabres are showing us there is life in Buffalo as they’ve gone 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and are even currently riding a 4-game winning streak. If they keep this up they may just find themselves in the playoff race, which is weird considering I thought they were tanking for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

Who’s hot? Center Tyler Ennis is one of the reasons the Sabres are winning as he is on a 4-game point streak in which he’s registered 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists). Overall this year he has 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 31 games this year and is easily the Sabres leading scorer.

Who’s not? Power forward Chris Stewart has reportedly been on the trade block for most of the year and with just 1 point (1 assist) in his last 5 games, I’m pretty positive not many teams are lining up to acquire his services.

Upcoming schedule for the week: Tuesday 12/16 at Winnipeg Jets, Saturday 12/20 vs. Colorado Avalanche and Sunday 12/21 at Boston Bruins.

 

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