Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Crossing the NHL's Atlantic Division: Week 9 (Part 2)

Greetings, Internet traveller! You’re just in time to join us on a sporadic journey through central and eastern North America (nobody said this was going to be an energy-efficient journey). We’ve enlisted the help of local tour guides for every stop, equipped with all the information you need to know about what’s new and exciting in every area of our trip. So without further ado, let’s fire up those engines and fasten your seatbelts…we’re going for a ride.

NOTE: Some pieces were submitted Friday and therefore do not reflect on last night’s games.

Part 2 of 2. Check out Part 1.

Detroit Red Wings

By John Evans, Staff Writer at Octopus Thrower

The Red Wings came into this week dying for points. The seven-game OT loss streak didn’t cause them to drop too much in the standings, but it certainly didn’t do them any favors. The Wings won against Buffalo 3-1, as to be expected. However, they didn’t look good enough to convince some writers that they had turned the corner. This writer and all his sage-like wisdom (it was me, OK?) were left looking awfully silly when Detroit rolled over Boston 5-1. This leaves them with 31 points, good for third in the Atlantic, but most teams have a game-in-hand on them. Should Montreal or Toronto get a point in their next contests, Detroit will jump back down to fifth.

Part of the reason for the solid week is backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson. The Wings starting netminder Jimmy Howard has struggled as of late, probably under the crushing weight of being an American hero, and riding Gustavsson has been the best option for the Wings so far. He’s certainly stepped up, but here’s hoping he is rewarded with more playing time. Detroit’s defensive play has certainly improved as well, partially due to Jonathan Ericsson stepping up his game. He signed a six-year extension and he’s looking like he’s worth every penny.

Boston Bruins

By Andrew Thompson, Editor of Causeway Crowd

The Bruins are still in first place in the Atlantic, and that’s the good news. The rest of the news is various degrees of bad. The Bruins were embarrassed by a hurt Detroit Red Wings team on Wednesday. It looked like the Buffalo Sabres snuck into the Bruins’ locker room and chose to play the Wings instead. It was painful to watch, and several of the players (like Patrice Bergeron) were openly ashamed of their performance.

The Bruins recovered in a 3-2 win against the Rangers, but bad breakdowns and soft goals almost took points away from the Black and Gold. I’m not sure what is going on at the TD Garden, but I can only hope that Coach Claude Julien finds that little bit of spark to get the Bruins energized and motivated. There are teams that would kill to have this talent pool, and yet a full 60-minute effort seems to be the exception and not the rule.

Ottawa Senators

By Jared Crozier, Editor of SenShot

It was another week where the Senators have been consistently inconsistent, and they have failed to make up any ground. Splitting a pair of back-to-backs, they took one step forward and one back. The wins were not overly convincing, while the losses look bad as a frustrated team and fan base can only wonder where the Pesky Sens have gone.

The biggest game of the year comes up on Sunday, when former captain Daniel Alfredsson and the Detroit Red Wings make their first appearance in Ottawa. Then comes the team’s first of two Florida trips this season. The Senators need to turn it around and soon or they will be out of the playoff race by Christmas.

Florida Panthers

By Rogerio Istiraneopulos, Staff Writer at The Rat Trick

The Florida Panthers are 4-3-1 since they ended their nine-game losing streak against the Anaheim Ducks on November 12th. For Panthers fans, that is certainly something to cheer about considering how terrible the special teams have been this season. The Panthers are currently registering the worst power play unit in the league (converting at a 10 per cent rate) and third worst on the kill (75.3 per cent). If the Panthers can start improving there, you can expect this team to start putting winning streaks together.

A big reason for this turn around has been the solid goaltending from veteran Tim Thomas. He has kept the Cats in games allowing them a chance to win basically every night. He has started in net for 10 straight games and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. Also, the new voice in the locker room seems to have given this team new life. It certainly is working for Scottie Upshall. After registering just 10 points in 53 games over two seasons, Upshall has eight points in his last 10 games. Rookie Nick Bjugstad has also come up big lately posting eight points in his last 11 games.

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Tags: NHL Atlantic Division Toronto Maple Leafs

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