It was another really sad week for the Eastern division, when you consider that five out of the eight teams in the division played either 0 or 1 game in the last week. The NHL’s rushed 56-game season is now a little more than a month old but has had significant issues in keeping players healthy and on the ice to even get the games in a compressed manner.
Two teams this week, Buffalo and New Jersey, didn’t play a single game. As of Friday night, the Devils still had 18 players on the COVID protocol list. NJ hasn’t played a game since January 31st, and their games are cancelled through February 16th, at the earliest. They did get some relief with the list last night but still have a significant number of names on the list.
The Flyers have become the latest COVID protocol hot spot list, with seven names on the list as of Friday night. Philadelphia was supposed to play Boston at Lake Tahoe in an outdoor game next Saturday, but that is in doubt. Reportedly the Rangers are the stand-by team that would be tabbed to make the trip out to Nevada if Philly’s health situation doesn’t allow it.
Below is how the standings currently are—
Here are the records of the week:
New York Islanders: 2-0-1
New Jersey: 0-0-0
New York Rangers: 0-2-1
There were only six games this week in the division, and the Rangers ended up eating three of the losses. Ouch. The Islanders took down the Bruins last night, otherwise it would have been a loss-heavy week for the New York teams. As it stands, the NYI 4-2 win over Boston last night proves to be a massive victory early in the season
The category to watch may shift from total points down to points%. Jersey has played just nine games this season, meaning they still have 47 to go with the NHL’s regular season currently scheduled to end on May 10th. That date may be bumped back a little, but with every “postponement” the risk of running out of time for the league grows. The chances all teams playing their 56 games looks more remote with each passing day and postponement.
If teams don’t play the full schedule, they will be sorted on the points%. That could be good news for the Pens, who have won 5/6 OT or SO games, and on points% a shootout win is just as valuable as a 10-0 regulation domination.
This week, as all weeks are, will be pretty critical for the Penguins. A pair of regulation wins and Pittsburgh would pass the Capitals in the standings, which seems tough to believe giving how the year started. But, then again, a pair of regulation losses for Pittsburgh and the Caps are way clear of the Pens. More than likely, especially with OT games likely with these two teams, they will split some points and games and end up in the middle.