Same old, same old. Boston is catching up to Tampa, and Toronto is trying to keep pace.
1st: Tampa Bay Lightning
36-13-3 (75 points) / +53 goal differential
The Lightning are finally at the tail end of a eight-game road trip. Last week, they lost in Winnipeg, but won 7-4 and 4-2 in Calgary and Vancouver respectively. They’ll play in Edmonton tonight, the last game of their swing through the west. All in all, they’ve gone 5-2 on the trip, which is critical given how well Boston has played behind them.
Also, the Lightning are apparently in on Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh.
2nd: Boston Bruins
31-11-8 (70 points) / +43 goal differential
The Bruins lost 3-1 to Anaheim last week, snapping a ridiculous streak that saw them go unbeaten in regulation dating all the way back to Dec. 14. After that, though, they rebounded with back-to-back commanding wins over St. Louis and Toronto. They have two games in hand on Tampa Bay and are only five points back of first in the Atlantic Division.
3rd: Toronto Maple Leafs
30-19-5 (65 points) / +22 goal differential
The Buds Were Extremely All Day last week. They won back-to-back games against the Islanders and Rangers by a combined score of 9-0. But after that, the Leafs got slammed by the seemingly-unstoppable Bruins 4-1 on the road. The Leafs are now five points behind Boston for second in the division and they’ve played four more games.
*THE FIRST CLIFF*
4th: Florida Panthers
22-22-6 (50 points) / -20 goal differential
The Panthers pulled themselves into fourth in the division (based on wins over games played) with three wins last week. They began the week with a home loss to Washington, but then they beat the Islanders, Sabres, and Red Wings. Praise should go to Harri Sateri, who’s filling in for the injured James Reimer and Roberto Luongo. In those three wins, the rookie posted a .946 save percentage.
5th: Detroit Red Wings
21-22-8 (50 points) / -17 goal differential
The Wings lost to Chicago and Florida last week, but also beat San Jose in a shootout and Carolina to keep their mediocre record intact.
6th: Montreal Canadiens
22-25-6 (50 points) / -25 goal differential
The Habs kept pace with the other bad teams in the division with back-to-back wins over Anaheim and Ottawa last week, but they also lost to St. Louis and Carolina. All three of these teams are in the same boat. They’re playing just bad enough to be irrelevant in the playoff conversation, but just good enough to be irrelevant at the top of the draft lottery conversation.
How many of you guys see the Canadiens score and succeed and just think they're screwing up their draft pick?— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) February 4, 2018
*THE NEXT CLIFF*
7th: Ottawa Senators
17-25-9 (43 points) / -44 goal differential
The Sens had a 2-2 week last week with wins over Anaheim and Philadelphia but loses to Carolina and Montreal. They managed to gain some ground on Buffalo in the Atlantic Division basement. Remember: They gave up their first-round pick either this year or next. Never forget.
8th: Buffalo Sabres
14-29-9 (37 points) / -54 goal differential
The Sabres know how to lose. They lost to New Jersey, Florida, and St. Louis last week and are doing an excellent job to ensure they have the highest lottery odds this spring. They rolled through Western Canada in late January, but thankfully for them, they remembered what they’re all about.