How are the top four teams in the Atlantic Division really doing? There have been some surprises like Montreal’s red-hot start doused by a 10-0 drubbing at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ottawa Senators have played great defensively. And the Detroit Red Wings will need a lot more effort wise should they want to make a 26th consecutive playoff appearance. For now, let’s take a closer look at the top four teams in the division.
- Montreal Canadiens (9-1-1; 19 points; 1st place)
The Habs have benefitted from the return of Carey Price, who has been sparkling between the pipes, registering a 6-0 record, a .964 save percentage, and a goalie point share of 2.3. Al Montoya was fine through Friday night until he surrendered 10 goals in a ghastly game against Columbus. Shea Weber has also been a bright spot, making Marc Bergevin look smart early after the blockbuster trade netted him for P.K. Subban. Weber has ten points (4-6) in 11 games, and leads the Habs in average ice time, logging nearly 26 minutes per night.
- Ottawa Senators (7-3-0; 14 points; 2nd place)
The Sens have looked strong early, riding a three game winning streak through Friday despite playing a brutal game of musical chairs in net. Craig Anderson has been tending to his wife during a health concern and has been in and out Ottawa, understandably. Andrew Hammond suffered a lower body injury that will keep him out for at least a week. Despite this, the Sens have charged on, and contribution from Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, and Ryan Dzingel have helped. Though some think they’ll come back to earth, Guy Boucher has done well early on.
- Tampa Bay Lightning (6-4-1; 13 points; 3rd place)
The Bolts have scored a lot of goals–but they’ve also been fishing the puck out of the net. After jumping out to a 5-1 start, the Lightning have gone 1-3-1 since and suffered from Ben Bishop looking very human with a pedestrian .891 save percentage. Though some of this can be chalked up to struggles and on the blue line, Bishop is in a contract year and isn’t doing enough to help himself–or the Bolts should they look to deal him away instead of losing him for nothing. Steven Stamkos continues to be dominant, putting up 13 points (7-6), while Nikita Kucherov is tied with him (3-10).
- Detroit Red Wings (6-5-1; 13 points; 4th place)
Sure, they’re fourth, but the Red Wings record is probably the weakest of the any team in the Atlantic. The Bruins have two games in hand, and are only a point behind while the Leafs and Panthers are two points behind, with a game in hand. The Sabres, last in the division, are only three points out of the Wings’ spot. Thomas Vanek was a bright spot until a hip injury sidelined him for 2-3 weeks, but the defense has been abysmal. Worse, the Red Wings are coughing up leads in the third period. Personnel decisions have been questionable, too. The deployment of the OMG line–Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening–has been lampooned by many while younger players, such as Andreas Athanasiou, continue to get limited ice time. The Red Wings can’t afford to sit back should they want to make another playoff appearance. The division–and conference–are much better.