Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils

Atlantic Division Watch (February 9)

With the All-Star break over, it’s time for the NHL playoff races to intensify. Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division’s outlook. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.

Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.

Atlantic Division outlook (February 9-15)

1. Philadelphia Flyers (35-13-5 for 75 pts; 53 Games Played)

Current streak: Two wins in a row.

Week ahead: Home vs. Carolina (Thursday), home vs. Los Angeles (Saturday), @ Tampa Bay (Tuesday).

Thoughts: The Flyers have a three point lead on the Penguins and two games in hand. Is it too early to wonder if they have the Atlantic in the bag already?

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-17-4 for 72 pts; 55 GP)

Current streak: Two straight losses.

Week ahead: Home vs. Los Angeles (Thurs), @ Islanders (Fri), @ Rangers (Sun).

Thoughts: Sure, it’s only two losses, but the Penguins looked pretty punch-less in their defeats to the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets. This week might determine when/if Ray Shero needs to make a move.

3. New York Rangers (29-23-4 for 62 pts; 56 GP)

Current streak: Five losses in a row.

Week ahead: @ Atlanta (Fri), home vs. Pittsburgh (Sun)

Thoughts: For a while it seemed like the Rangers were in a comfortable middle-of-the-playoff-pack position, but now they’re all the way down to seventh place. They need to get their acts together to avoid falling into a race for the last two playoff spots with the Thrashers and Hurricanes.

4. New Jersey Devils (20-30-4 for 44 pts; 54 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: @ Toronto (Thurs), home vs. San Jose (Fri)

Thoughts: Could the Devils actually fight for a playoff spot? They’ll need to maintain their 2011 pace for the rest of the season to even have a prayer of doing so.

5. New York Islanders (17-29-7 for 41 pts; 53 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: @ Montreal (Thurs), home vs. Pittsburgh (Fri), @ Buffalo (Sun), @ Ottawa (Tues).

Thoughts: Well, at least they should be able to get a lottery pick.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever


Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)


Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…