Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3-1, 11 pts, 1st in Division): A strong week helped the Penguins reclaim the top spot in the Atlantic from the upstart Islanders, as the Pens downed Ottawa 5-2 and bested the league-leading Predators 4-3 in overtime. A tough 1-0 overtime loss to the Blues must have been a familiar sight, as Jaroslav Halak, who knocked the Pens out of the playoffs last year, turned aside all 31 Pittsburgh shots. Sidney Crosby is on pace for another incredible season, with 6 goals and 11 points already. Supposed starter Marc-Andre Fleury got his first win of the season against Nashville, but Brent Johnson has been great so far, going 4-0-1 in five starts with a miniscule 1.39 GAA.
New York Islanders (4-2-2, 10 pts, 2nd in Division): Someone forgot to tell this Islanders’ club they were supposed to be terrible again this year. Led by a cluster of young talent that includes John Tavares (5 goals), Matt Moulson (7 points) and relative unknown P.A. Parenteau (team-leading 9 points), the Isles have been trouble for anyone in their path so far this season. The Isles handed the undefeated Maple Leafs their first loss in Toronto on Monday, and then beat the Lightning in OT on Thursday. A loss to Florida, despite a hat trick from Tavares, finished the week, but the Isles have to be happy with how they’ve started.
New York Rangers (4-2-1, 9 pts, 3rd in Division): Despite being without the services of leading scorer Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, the Rangers reeled off three straight wins to finish last week. Backup keeper Marty Biron got his first win as a Ranger in Toronto, and King Henrik returned to win games on back-to-back nights against Boston and New Jersey. The Rangers’ defense continues to be their strength, and when all three of the injured scorers return, this could be a pretty dangerous club.
Philadelphia Flyers (3-3-1, 7 pts, 4th in Division):With only two games last week, the Flyers got back to business on Saturday after dropping their first game of the week to Anaheim. The Flyers outshot Toronto 40-14, and took the game over with two goals early in the third period before the Leafs got back into it. The win snapped a three game losing streak, and the Flyers have a chance to make up some ground with four games this week, including matches with division counterparts Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.
- New Jersey Devils (2-6-1, 5 pts, 5th in Division): The circus that has been the New Jersey Devils’ 2010-11 season looked to be over as Martin Brodeur awoke from his early season hibernation to post a shutout against Montreal on Thursday. Alas, it was not to be, as the Devils were outscored 9-1 over the weekend by Buffalo and the New York Rangers. Until their salary cap issues are sorted out, it seems this club won’t be able to gain any traction. Scratching the biggest free agent signing in recent memory from a lineup card for any reason aside from injury is simply ludicrous in today’s NHL, and if the Devils’ don’t get themselves together immediately, they could be too far gone to catch up. A five game road trip trhough San Jose, Anaheim, LA, Vancouver and Chicago could spell early doom.