Deep Diving into the Atlantic Division
The most prestigious Division in the National Hockey League with the deepest history is none other than the Atlantic Division. There are eight teams that makeup the Atlantic and four of them are an original six, dating back from 1942 to 1967. For twenty five seasons it was the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
After multiple realignments and shuffling of the deck, the Atlantic Division is set and certainly has more fire power than most of the other divisions.
Detroit Red Wings
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I’ve been a Maple Leafs fan since I can remember watching my first NHL game. But what else I am, is a fan of hockey and a guru of sorts when it comes to fantasy. So even though I may have a bit of a homer-esque view of the Buds, I am well aware of all of the talent spread throughout the league. It’s important to keep a realistic view of your team so that you aren’t disappointed yearly, and I don’t just mean a first round exit. With thirty two teams in the league, there are thirty one losers and only sixteen of those are making it to see some playoff hockey. Looking at the eight teams that make up the Atlantic, you know not everyone is going to get a ticket for a shot at the Cup.
Currently the Florida Panthers are at the top of the Atlantic with 37 points and a league leading 93 goals for and only 51 against. Safe to say the goaltending of Bobrovsky has been stellar in the early going of the season. Barkov has been sidelined with a knee injury for just under ten games and should be returning to the lineup any day which will of course inject some high octane offense. The Panthers have been eating raw meat at home this season with a dominant home record of 14-1.
The Maple Leafs are sitting one point behind Florida but have played two games more. What’s been most impressive with this Toronto team is their improvement at keeping the puck out of their net. Campbell has been the lead horse for the Buds and has really excelled in this starting goaltender role after taking over from Andersen last season. When Toronto first traded for Campbell many Leafs fans were hopeful he would be a quality backup for years to come. Surprise! A pleasant one at that. Toronto will have to move on from their battle royal on Sunday night against Winnipeg. The game got out of hand thanks to poor job of officiating, a few cheap shots, a few scraps and a couple suspensions. Normally I’d say that’s some good Canadian hockey, but in this case it was about one or two steps away from someone’s season ending early with a nasty injury. The Leafs have enough injury problems with Marner, Sandin and Dermott all dealing with something. Unfortunately it looks like Mitch Marner will be missing about a month for the blue and white.
Tampa Bay may be without superstar Nikita Kucherov, but that doesn’t mean the two time defending Stanley Cup Champions don’t have enough firepower. They have the same output as the Leafs but have done it in two less games and have also been without Brayden Point for a handful of those games. With Vasilevskiy taking care of business, and a healthy Kucherov and Point back the Lightning will continue to be the favorites for yet another cup hoisting at seasons end. Stamkos leads the pack with 12 goals and 27 points and Hedman is nipping at his heels with 26 points having a monster year out the gates. Could Tampa be setting themselves up for a true dynasty? Time will tell…
The Red Wings are the biggest surprise in the Division, at least in terms of a positive spin. It seems like Dylan Larkin is back to his 70+ point self and with Yzerman at the helm can you really see Detroit being awful for that much longer? After fleecing Carolina and acquiring Alex Nedeljkovic for peanuts, the Wings have their goaltender for now and the future. Not only that but they were able to draft a 6’7 Sebastian Cossa as their goaltender of the future. The Wings have two prospects who are flourishing this season; Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. If only Bertuzzi was vaccinated the Wings would be able to keep a steady lineup each night; a bit of a wild card there but most teams seem to be having COVID issues so perhaps it’s not making a huge impact at this point in time. Does Detroit want to keep winning these games or would they be better off not finishing in 9-11th place in the East and getting a mediocre draft pick. I’d be hoping for a bit of a slide if I were a Wings fans as they are still young and a couple future studs would go a long way in such a deep Division.
The Bruins have only played 21 games and have some catching up to do. It’s certainly not the most dominant start to a season for the Bruins but they are working out some goaltending kinks and the end result just may end up being Rask comes back. He’s practicing with the team in Boston and has yet to sign anything, so perhaps we will find that out sooner than later. Marchand leads the team in points and penalty minutes, so you know he’s thriving on the ice when he’s racking up both of these stats, that’s when he’s most effective. Other than McAvoy’s quality start, none of the Bruins other defensemen have chipped in at this point of the season. Both Brandon Carlo and Matt Gryzelcyk have four points, and Forbert 5 points in 21 games. Bruins will need to get some production coming from the back end to help ease the pressure on the big line.
It’s been a tough go for the Sabres, Senators and Canadiens. I don’t think anyone expected much from Buffalo or Ottawa, but there is certainly some heavy disappointment from the faithful Habs fans. It was a beautiful run to the Stanley Cup finals with Price playing his best hockey since the 2014 Olympics. It seemed like Shea Weber’s ankle update would be the worst of the off-season news. Unfortunately for hockey and Montreal, the news sent a ripple through the NHL and the Canadiens organization. It must have been a very hard decision for Price, but undoubtedly the right one. There was a picture of Price and his daughter at home under the Christmas tree that went viral. That’s a warm and fuzzy one that should be etched in your brain if you’re a fan of the great sport. It’s quite shocking to see Montreal at the bottom of the Atlantic Division after almost hoisting Lord Stanley. It seemed like it was just one of those starts to a season that was salty, sour and puke worthy for the Canadiens fans. Hopefully Cole Caufield can energize his battery and give the Habs fans something to enjoy in this hiccup of a season.
The Sabres management I’m still trying to wrap my head around why they wouldn’t give Eichel his preferred surgery…its mind blowing really. What’s going on over there in Buffalo? Unfortunately I don’t think they are anywhere close to done their slide into the gutter and it won’t be long until they are stuck in the ditch til the 82 games are done. It may be a few more years of pain ahead, sorry Buffalo fans.
The Senators hit rock bottom when they waived Matt Murray. He’s 27 and has won the cup twice, back to back and is now playing in the AHL? Seems crazy to me, I’m actually shocked no teams picked Murray up. There are always goaltender injuries and you never know when that trading piece may come in handy. There is no point rushing a 22 year old goaltender whose not ready, that just hurts their confidence and development. Confidence at this level of hockey is half the battle, everyone has tons of skill, but to be fully confident is truly what makes these players break out of their shell. Will Murray stay in the AHL all season or will they call him back up after a stint in the A where he has some time to sort things out. Either way, the Sens looked like they were going to be a hard team to play against the way they finished last season. They have won three in a row and we may see them be that hard to play team as the season comes to an end, likely a too little too late scenario.
Atlantic Division Games Tonight:
Blue Jackets vs Leafs (7pm)
Islanders vs Senators (7pm)
Lightning vs Canadiens (7pm)
Predators vs Red Wings (7pm)
Ducks vs Sabres (730pm)
Panthers vs Blues (8pm)
Now that we’ve greased the wheel, the Atlantic Division blogs will be in depth and up to date with quality topics and breakdowns.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.