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Bust out your monocle and take a gander of the Atlantic

February 17, 2022, 1:52 PM ET [1 Comments]
Lucas Neilson
Blogger •Atlantic Division Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
This is the time of year when the going can get tough and the tough can get going. The Montreal Canadiens have continued their toilet bowl cleanse but were able to get a handsome return for Tyler Toffoli. Don’t get me wrong, I think Toffoli is a good player and adds some depth for Calgary, but Montreal will benefit from this move. When the team is struggling as it has, it’s best to get these bountiful returns when you can.

It may not seem like the hugest return to some, but when you’re getting a first round pick there is always hope of an impact NHL player coming up the pipeline. It’s not the first time Emil Heineman has been traded, but I wouldn’t look into that too much. He’s playing in Sweden and his game has elevated this season but the verdict on the 2020 second round pick is that he has a high end shot but still needs work in his own end. Overall, he’s a decent prospect and that’s what Montreal’s management seems to be looking for as they close the page and start a new chapter.

As most teams are closing in on fifty games played, the Wings are the only team who’ve reached that milestone at this point of the season. They are cruising around the five hundred mark all season and that’s exactly where they currently sit. Are the Wings likely to improve as the season goes? I’d say that’s quite possible considering the return of Vrana could be coming at some point in the near future as he’s targeted to be back at some point late February or early March.

The comeback of Rask didn’t go so well, but the return of Matt Murray seems to be going quite well so far. Could it be the Ottawa Senators get some competent goaltending from Murray who’s struggled to find his early career form? Sens fans sure hope so, if not they are going to have to look onward as they continue to add quality prospects that are starting to ripen nicely in the fruit bowl and they may look elsewhere for their goaltender of the future. Even though the Sens are struggling overall this season, they can upset some teams down the stretch as points become more important for the playoff picture.

After a few games off Bergeron is back in the lineup for the Bruins and Brad Marchand continues to serve his National Hockey League leading eighth suspension. Over the year’s the Rat has lost over 1.4 million dollars worth of income, luckily that’s not all he lost after his licking escapades. With Rask out the picture, it will be interesting if the Bruins look at another goaltending options before playoffs or they continue to use both Ullmark and Swayman. When the Bruins brought back Rask for a chance to take over, I thought the idea and move was pretty lame and felt it may rub Swayman the wrong way. He’s the future between the pipes is he not? It won’t be long before the kid takes over the reigns of the Boston net, just an odd move by management I felt.

Last but not least the big three in the Atlantic Division. Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto have been scoring goals and winning games and each team is finding ways to win games they shouldn’t have. I’m looking at you Florida; I feel like every third game there is some miraculous comeback or flurry of goals towards the end of the game and bingo, two points in the bank. Perhaps they have some sort of horseshoe wedged up where the sun doesn’t shine when playing in sunny Florida. They are still crushing it at home with a glorified 23-3-0 record, the best in the league. This may be the best hockey I’ve ever seen both Huberdeau and Barkov play, they are both outstanding night in night out and their production is on pace for some career years. As long as this lineup stays healthy and hungry, they will continue to be the cat’s meow of the Division.

Tampa Bay is primed and ready for take off. It’s time for the big dog’s to begin to play some meaningful hockey and the Lightning are the team nobody wants to face in the first round. It may almost be strategic near the end of the season for a team to rest players in the final game or two if it means playing Boston/Toronto/Florida or Tampa. Of course it could backfire and you still lose, but I can’t see anyone being eager to play against the back to back Stanley Cup Champions.

My beloved Maple Leafs. The roster looks great, the forwards have some good chemistry in the top six, and there are some quality hard working depth players in the bottom six, something the teams needed in past years. But the one big thing missing is a defensive upgrade; that is a certainty. This was a mistake that Dubas made last season and when he added a useless Foligno, he should have been adding another defensemen to help keep the puck out of their net. A defender that a winger doesn’t want to go into the corner with, someone who’s going to keep these shifty forwards with their heads up. That’s what the Leafs still need, they don’t need to be a big name defender, just someone who will sacrifice their body and help Campbell’s shots continue to come from the perimeter. Secure that defender and this team can go all the way, they just need to get out of the first round.

Trade deadline is March 21. Let’s see who’s going to make the biggest wave in the Atlantic.

Have a great day, thanks for reading.
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