Atlantic Division Notebook: Top Teams Starting To Break Away From Rest In Atlantic
ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS
1. Boston Bruins (14-6-1, 29 points)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-7-0, 28 points)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (13-7-1, 27 points)
4. Detroit Red Wings (9-6-7, 25 points)
5. Montreal Canadiens (11-9-2, 24 points)
6. Ottawa Senators (8-10-4, 20 points)
7. Florida Panthers (6-12-4, 16 points)
8. Buffalo Sabres (5-17-1, 11 points)
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – 2nd Place (up one spot)
Effortlessly rolling through October’s slate, the Bolts closed out the first month of the season with a 8-4-0 record, only losing to the Boston Bruins twice, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils. They also boasted the best record in the Eastern Conference by the beginning of November, including four straight wins to start the month. Amidst it all was center Steven Stamkos, who was not only leading the league in points and scoring, but had vowed to play a better two-way game, a part of his maturing role with Tampa Bay.
Since the hot start, the Lightning suffered a major blow to their offense and self-esteem with Stamkos suffering a broken right tibia against Atlantic Division foe, Boston. Earning two wins in his absence, the Bolts have fallen off course as of late, losing two straight to the Western Conference for the first time this season.
Playing in the second half of a four-game road trip to close out the week, the Lightning hope to get back on track, with netminder Ben Bishop standing tall between the pipes and off to the best start in his career. Upon their return from the West Coast, six of their next eight games will be hosted at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Steven Stamkos – 14 goals, nine assists, 23 points,plus-11
Martin St. Louis – eight goals, 13 assists, 21 points, plus-8
Valtteri Filppula – nine goals, seven assists, 16 points, plus-2
BOSTON BRUINS – 1st Place (up two spots)
Despite losing four out of five from the end of October to the beginning of November, the Bruins have managed to remain neck-and-neck with the Bolts for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Tuukka Rask’s name can be found among the top-five in the league for goaltenders and with a team that has just fewer than 10 players in the double-digits for points, it’s been a recipe for success for Boston. Ailing as of late however is their defense, which has seen veteran players missing from the lineup, causing the Bruins to test their depth on the blue line.
Boston opens up a stretch of five of their next six games at home to wrap-up the month, as they’re tested mainly by the Metropolitan Division. The Bruins are 8-3-1 at TD Garden in 2013-14.
Milan Lucic – nine goals, seven assists, 16 points, plus-11
David Krejci – three goals, 13 assists, 16 points, plus-11
Reilly Smith – three goals, 10 assists, 13 points, plus-4
BUFFALO SABRES – 8th Place
The Sabres are one of two teams in the Atlantic Division who have had early season shakeups already. With just four wins through 20 games, head coach Ron Rolston along with the rest of the coaching staff and general manager were removed and Ted Nolan was named as interim head coach. Former Sabres’ captain Pat LaFontaine, who was hired as President of Hockey Operations, is now in search of a new GM.
Buffalo also said goodbye to tenured Sabre and premium goal-scorer Thomas Vanek, after trading him to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015. The Sabres are now 1-2-0 under Nolan and finish out November’s slate with three-games against division foe’s the Red Wings, Canadiens and Maple Leafs, along with the Metropolitan Division’s New Jersey Devils.
Cody Hodgson – seven goals, nine assists, 16 points
Matt Moulson – two goals, seven assists, nine points
Tyler Ennis – four goals, four assists, eight points
DETROIT RED WINGS – 4th Place (dropped three spots)
Detroit has struggled thus far in 2013-14, but picking up points in a number of overtime losses has helped keep them afloat within their respective division. Most recently, the Red Wings went on a stretch of losing five straight games in overtime or a shootout, which was part of the bigger story of losing seven consecutive matchups. They are also winless in eight straight games at Joe Louis Arena.
With Daniel Alfredsson already listed as day-to-day with tightness in his groin, Danny DeKeyser also joined the injury list with a separated left shoulder and is expected to miss four to six weeks. With DeKeyser gone, Detroit has invited Gustav Nyquist to join the roster after appearing in 22 games (including 14 playoff contests) with the Red Wings last season.
Henrik Zetterberg – 10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points, plus-8
Pavel Datsyuk – 11 goals, 11 assists, 22 points, plus-6
Daniel Alfredsson – three goals, 11 assists, 14 points, plus-1
FLORIDA PANTHERS – 7th Place
Florida was the other team who has seen some changes to their inner-workings, as Kevin Dineen and his coaching staff were replaced by their AHL affiliate, the San Anotonio Rampage’s head coach, Peter Horachek (interim) along with assistant coaches John Madden and Brian Skrudland. The change came after Florida lost seven straight, but that was not the end of their winless streak as they continued on to lose nine in a row.
The Panthers also traded Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen. After battling back from a groin injury goalie Tim Thomas has won three out of his last four games, including victories over some of the West’s best clubs – the Ducks, Avalanche and Canucks. In a similar move, struggling netminder Jacob Markstrom was loaned to the Rampage with Scott Clemmensen serving as Thomas’ backup.
Brian Campbell – three goals, nine assists, 12 points, plus-2
Tomas Fleischmann – three goals, nine assists, 12 points
Jonathan Huberdeau – five goals, six assists, 11 points
MONTREAL CANADIENS – 5th Place (dropped two spots)
Breaking out of their tie from third place with the Bolts and Maple Leafs previously, the Canadiens 24 points is only five shy of the first-place Bruins. Many of their sidelined players have also returned to the lineup, including Danny Briere, who made his return against Tampa Bay on November 12.
Winning three out of four to end October, Montreal suffered four straight losses to begin November, but have found themselves coming back around with three of five wins following the losing streak.
P.K. Subban – three goals, 16 assists, 19 points, plus-7
Alex Galchenyuk – five goals, 11 assists, 16 points
Brendan Gallagher – eight goals, six assists, 14 points, plus-5
OTTAWA SENATORS – 6th Place
Looking on as the five teams above them begin to breakaway, the Senators are finding themselves closer to the basement of the Atlantic Division and have remained fairly constant in sixth place thus far. It was not where they expected to be given Ottawa made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last year, as they hope to gain some ground in the standings.
Erik Karlsson – seven goals, 15 assists, 22 points
Bobby Ryan – 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points, plus-8
Kyle Turris – six goals, 14 assists, 20 points, plus-7
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS – 3rd Place (dropped one spot)
The Maple Leafs seem to be continuing the pace from last season, even taking the Bruins for a run for their money in the standings and on the ice, despite missing key players at different times this season. Center Phil Kessel has remained Toronto’s constant, while the goalie tandem of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have been solid and a missing piece of the Maple Leafs’ team in years’ past.
In the middle of a five-game homestand, Toronto then closes out the month with a three-game road trip against the Eastern Conference.
Phil Kessel – 12 goals, nine assists, 21 points, plus-5
James van Riemsdyk – nine goals, seven assists, 16 points, plus-6
Mason Raymond – eight goals, eight assists, 16 points, plus-4