Northeast Division Power Rankings: Week 1
- Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0-0, 8 pts, 1st in Division Standings): Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read correctly, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the toast of the Northeast Division after a blazing start that has seen them down division rivals Montreal and Ottawa, the New York Rangers and perennial Cup contender Pittsburgh Penguins. Keying the surge is a surprisingly effective offense, headlined by Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur, while the goaltending and defense have been superb as well. With two more games against the Rangers (who lost Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury for extended periods of time in Friday’s loss to Toronto), and games with Philadelphia, Florida, Boston and the New York Islanders, Toronto has a serious opportunity to put some rare breathing room between themselves and the rest of the division.
Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1, 7 pts, 2nd in Division Standings): Despite losing their season opener to the hated Leafs, the Habs have gotten some surprisingly good play from beleaguered netminder Carey Price, including a 44 save overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last Wednesday. The powerplay has been terrible without Andrei Markov, but PK Subban has played well in his absence.
Boston Bruins (2-1-0, 4 pts, 3rd in Division Standings): The Bruins are a few games behind the rest of their division after starting the year in Europe with two games against the Phoenix Coyotes. Tuuka Rask gave up five goals in his only start of the season so far, but backup Tim Thomas, who won the Vezina in 2009, has won both his starts, giving up just one goal against New Jersey and shutting out the ‘Yotes. With two quality goalies, it’s tough to see the Bruins not being competitive this year.
Buffalo Sabres (1-4-1, 3 pts, 5th in Division Standings): Despite winning the division title last season, the Buffalo Sabres, along with Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller, are off to a wickedly slow start, sitting in the division basement, despite having played more games than any of their rivals. After winning their opener against the Sens, the Sabres dropped four in a row at home, and then lost at Chicago on Saturday. With five of the six remaining games in October on the road, it won’t get much easier for the Sabres, so they’ll have to dig deep to avoid an early hole like the one that doomed the Leafs last year
Ottawa Senators (1-3-1, 3 pts, 4th in Division Standings): Early season losses to division rivals can have lethal consequences in the playoff race later in the year, but the Sens will have to hope they can make up for first week losses to the Sabres, Leafs and Habs. An injury to Pascal Leclaire might be devastating, especially with Pittsburgh and Buffalo coming to town this week.