Panthers climb atop Atlantic with sixth straight win

AP
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While the NHL’s other three division races may come down to battles for the second and third seeds, the Atlantic Division lead could change multiple times per week.

That remains to be seen, but the top spot is suddenly being thrown around like a hot potato, and the crown currently lies with the Florida Panthers.

With other key Atlantic teams idle and the Boston Bruins falling in regulation, the Panthers’ sixth straight win (edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2) puts them in first place.

It seems appropriate to compare Florida’s place from one holiday to another …

Yep, that’s what you call a dramatic turnaround. This race has the potential to be dizzying at times, especially if most teams see mixed results.

Here’s an updated look at the Atlantic’s top six:

Florida: 20-12-4, 44 points (36 games played)
Detroit: 18-10-7, 43 points (35 GP)
Montreal: 20-14-3, 43 points (37 GP)
Boston: 19-12-4, 42 points (35 GP)
Ottawa: 18-12-6, 42 points (36 GP)
Tampa Bay: 18-15-3, 39 points (36 GP)

Bewildering stuff, and the Panthers’ journey implies that it might be dangerous to dismiss Buffalo and Toronto altogether.

Florida is getting it done so far during a long homestand, too, as they’ve won three with three games remaining before things get hairy with an extended road trip.

Maybe the most interesting date in the near future comes when they host the Habs on Tuesday. Perhaps these Atlantic teams will flip the script once again in mere days?