Anton Volchenkov, Dylan Reese

Atlantic Division Watch (February 16)

Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division. 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 16 -22)

1. Philadelphia Flyers (37-14-5 for 79 pts; 56 Games Played)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Three road games: vs. Florida (Wednesday), vs. Carolina (Friday), Rangers (Sunday) and one home game:  vs. Phoenix (Tuesday).

Thoughts: Once again, the Flyers’ biggest opponent is in a different conference: the Vancouver Canucks. It’s between Philly and Vancouver to take the Presidents Trophy right now.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (35-19-4 for 74 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: Two losses.

Week ahead: @ Colorado (Wed), @ Chicago (Sun) and against Washington (Mon).

Thoughts: The Penguins are in survival mode, especially until/if they make a trade. It doesn’t seem like passing the Flyers is much of a goal at this point.

3. New York Rangers (30-24-4 for 64 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Home vs. Los Angeles (Thurs), @ New Jersey (Fri), home vs. Philadelphia (Sun), @ Carolina (Tues).

Thoughts: After losing six games in a row, the Rangers finally earned a win against the free-falling Penguins. They should be well-rested coming into a tough six-day stretch.

4. New York Islanders (21-29-7 for 49 pts; 57 GP)

Current streak: Four wins in a row.

Week ahead: Three home games:  vs. Boston (Thurs), vs. Los Angeles (Sat), vs. Florida (Mon) and @ Toronto (Tues).

Thoughts: The Islanders and Devils both seem to be on some odd winning streaks. Is it all to make the Ottawa Senators’ lives easier, or what?

5. New Jersey Devils (22-30-4 for 48 pts; 56 GP)

Current streak: Four wins.

Week ahead: Home vs. Carolina (Wed), home vs. Rangers (Fri), @ Carolina (Sat) and @ Dallas (Tues).

Thoughts: This turns out to be an interesting week for the Devils. Two wins (especially in regulation) could be a good gap-bridging for the Hurricanes, while they play two other games against playoff caliber teams who are struggling mightily. It’s an interesting chance for the Devils, although it could just as easily be a final shutting of the door.

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. Today, we take a look at the Central Division.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: