Power Ranking the Atlantic Division: October Edition
The Atlantic Division, as it is most years, looks to be hotly contested during the 2011-2012 season.
The Penguins are looking to maintain success, despite the unavailability of their star players.
The Rangers seem primed for a playoff run while the Flyers have retooled their roster to get younger and hungrier.
The Islanders are out to prove that they are finally ready to compete for the division crown and the Devils are desperate to prove that last season’s failure to qualify for the postseason was merely a fluke.
When all of these story lines come together in classic division clashes what do you get?
Some of the mot exciting events in all of sport.
Here it is, the Atlantic Division Power Rankings, October edition.
5. New York Rangers
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The Rangers got off to a rocky start dropping their first two games in Europe in overtime and a shootout, and then losing their first contest stateside to the rival Islanders.
The Rangers did manage to rebound though, shutting out the potent offense of the Vancouver Canucks for a 4-0 victory and beating the Calgary Flames in overtime just two days later.
Keep in mind that the Blue shirts are battling a tough opening schedule, playing their first seven games on the road in four different countries.
If the Rangers are to fulfill their high aspirations, they are going to need to relieve some of the pressure from all-world netminder, Henrik Lundqvist, and find more offense, plain and simple.
4. New York Islanders
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The Islanders started off on the right foot at 3-1. Unfortunately, the Isles dropped their last two contests to the Lightning and then the Panthers in underwhelming fashion.
First overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, John Tavares is off to a blazing start with 10 points in six games, proving to the entire league that he is ready to make the jump to superstar status.
There is a lot of raw talent and potential on this very young team, but this year may be the last year of rebuilding before the Islanders can finally seriously contend for playoff glory.
3. New Jersey Devils
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In comparison to the disastrous start of last season, the Devils are playing very strongly. The Devils have posted a 3-2-1 record through six games, getting their wins with solid defense and goaltending from Johan Hedberg instead of the ailing Martin Brodeur.
Superstar sniper, Ilya Kovalchuk has led the offensive charge tallying six points in six games in addition to two shootout winning goals. If the Devils can get captain Zach Parise on track and find some secondary scoring, they could successfully put last season’s debacle out of memory for good.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
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Like the Flyers, the Penguins have hit the ground running to begin the 2011-2012 season. With a 6-2-2 record with a battered Evgeni Malkin only playing three games and without the services of Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have certainly succeeded in playing a fluid, team-based style of play.
James Neal, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang have shouldered most of the offensive load in the absence of their superstar duo, combining for 25 points so far this season. One can only imagine just how dominant this team could, and likely will, be when completely healthy.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have gotten off to a strong start this season posting a 4-2-1 record thus far.
Claude Giroux has notched eight points in seven games, well on his way to becoming a superstar at the tender age of 23.
With solid play from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and a myriad of youngsters, the Flyers have a roster devoid of glaring holes and have set themselves up to dominate the Atlantic Division for years to come.