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Who’s the Toughest Team in the Atlantic? Part 1
With the Devils and Penguins leading the Division with 28 points, the Flyers, Rangers and Islanders are all tied with 23. With that said only five points separate the entire division.
Although we are only a quarter of the way through the NHL season, if it ended today the entire division would make the playoffs along with the Northeast Division leader Buffalo Sabers and Washington Capitals in the Southeast Divisions .
The Devils are in their game and have proven to be a tuff road team with a record of 9-1 away from their building led by Z. Parise with 24 points and the legend M. Brodeur between the pipes in holding down a 12-5 record and 2.21 Goals Against Average. With Parise and Brodeur on their game and their great road record you can see why they are tied atop the Atlantic with the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Stanley Cup champions picked up where the team left off by winning it all last season they started this season off 9-1. They lost E. Malkin for a few games and hit a skid but got back on the winning track with him back in the lineup winning their last two and holding that spot with Devils with a 14-7 record.
The Philadelphia Flyers stand at 11-5-1 and they were the first team to hand the New Jersey Devils their first road loss of the season. The Flyers also have games in hand on every team in the division with two games in hand on the Devils they have four games in hand on the Penguins, Rangers and Islanders. The Airmen are led by one of the best if not the best defenders in the league Chris Pronger. Jeff Carter leads the team in scoring with 19 points as Pronger and Mike Richards have 17.
The Rangers who started the season hot at 7-1 have recently cooled since then. Although the Rangers have been on the losing end of their games recently they have been in all of them. It is led by M. Gaborik with 27 points and is currently in second place in the league for points overall with 15 goals and 12 assists. If the Rangers can get the rest of their guys going and stay healthy they will be a threat as well.
The division’s surprise has excited the fans in Long Island again. At the start of the season they couldn’t get a win but they managed to get points in a bunch of games losing in over time. The Islanders started their off season 1-4-5 getting their first win of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout they finally got their first win of the season against the NY Rangers and went 7- 2-2. since that victory. The Islanders are getting the job done with their youth explosion of number one pick John Tavares in the 2009 draft and with M. Moulson and K. Okposo hooking up. Goalie D. Roloson has been nodding between the pipes of late and has a 6-1 record in goal with a GAA of 2.77 Their captain D. Weight is out of the lineup along with the goal -keeper R. DiPietro. This team will get some leadership back when those two are fit again and the Islanders should only get better.
In short, this division could be at its best, but right now it seems the Penguins, Flyers and Devils are the tuffest. With the Rangers and Islanders there this will be an interesting race to watch as it unfolds. It’s very hard to pick one but you can’t deny the debt of the defending champions.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article as we reach the mid-point of the season in early January 2010.
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