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Atlantic Division reset

Maple Leafs seek trip to postseason; Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak in jeopardy

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com looks at how each team shapes up entering the stretch run in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The NHL All-Star break has come and gone and the 10-week sprint to the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Tuesday.

Few of the League's 30 teams have pulled far enough away from the pack to be looking ahead to the postseason or dropped far enough below it that they're out of contention. There are 18 teams within nine points of one another; it's likely that no more than six of them will make the playoffs.

Here's a look at how the eight teams in the Atlantic Division shape up entering the race for the postseason:

Metropolitan Division reset

 

Montreal Canadiens

29-14-7, 65 points, 1st in division, 4th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 32 (16 home, 16 away)

Special teams: Power play: 23.5 percent (2nd); penalty kill: 79.7 percent (23rd)

What's gone right: After a 9-0-1 start, Montreal has remained atop the division. Goalie Carey Price has struggled recently but remains the backbone (22-10-5, 2.35 goals-against average, .921 save percentage, two shutouts). The addition of Shea Weber in an offseason trade with the Nashville Predators has given Montreal a do-it-all defenseman (12 goals, 31 points, plus-18). Forward Alexander Radulov, who played in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, has been a pleasant offensive addition with 12 goals and 37 points in 48 games.

What's gone wrong: Injuries to forwards Brendan Gallagher (hand) and Alex Galchenyuk (knee), and defenseman Andrei Markov (groin) have hurt. The penalty killing has not been good; Montreal has allowed a power-play goal in 28 games this season.

Needs: A veteran forward who excels on the penalty kill. An experienced defenseman or depth forward would provide insurance as the playoffs approach.

Trophy hopefuls: Price (Vezina), Weber (Norris)

Schedule: Montreal has a four-game road trip in early March, a six-game homestand at the end of March, and a three-game road trip to start April. Other than that, they don't play more than two consecutive games at home or on the road.

Outlook: Good goaltending, a good start and an excellent power play have helped the Canadiens maintain their lead in the division. They are Stanley Cup contenders, and if they can fix the penalty kill will be a very tough out in the playoffs.

Video: CGY@MTL: Price turns away Gaudreau on the rush

 
Ottawa Senators

26-15-6, 58 points, 2nd in division, 6th in conference

Remaining games: 35 (14 home, 21 away)

Special teams: Power play: 17.3 percent (19th); penalty kill: 82.5 percent (12th)

What's gone right: Mike Condon has shored up the goaltending after being claimed on waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's stepped in for Craig Anderson, who has been out while his wife had cancer treatments. Condon has played in 24 straight games, including 15 straight starts. Erik Karlsson is having another Norris Trophy-type season (seven goals, 39 points). Ottawa has balanced scoring: Five players have at least 11 goals. Ottawa has gone 4-1 in shootouts.

What's gone wrong: The power-play should be better. Mark Stone has 10 goals with the man-advantage, but the rest of the Senators have 16 combined. More often than not, they have followed up a winning streak with a losing streak and haven't been as consistent as they'd like.

Needs: A forward with power-play presence. Mike Hoffman (15 power-play points) and Stone (11 points) are the two forwards with more than 10 points on the man-advantage. Kyle Turris has nine, but after that, no other forward has more than four.

Trophy hopefuls: Karlsson (Norris), Guy Boucher (Jack Adams)

Schedule: Three-fifths of their remaining games will be played on the road. They have a three-game trip following the All-Star break, which is one of four remaining trips of at least three games. They also have three homestands of at least three games.

Outlook: The Senators appear headed for the playoffs after missing them last season. First-year coach Boucher has done an excellent job, especially with Anderson missing a lot of time.

Video: OTT@SJS: Karlsson buries wrister from the high slot

 

Boston Bruins

25-21-6, 56 points, 3rd in division, 8th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 30 (17 home, 13 away)

Special teams: Power play: 17.4 percent (18th); penalty kill: 86.5 percent (2nd)

What's gone right: Goalie Tuukka Rask has carried the Bruins for most of the season (24-12-4, 2.15 GAA, .918 SV%, five shutouts). Forward Brad Marchand has 21 goals and 49 points in 52 games and is on pace to shatter his NHL career high in points set last season (61). Forward David Pastrnak has blossomed into a scoring threat (20 goals). Defenseman Torey Krug (four goals, 31 points) has added scoring, and rookie Brandon Carlo has played well with Zdeno Chara on the first pair. The penalty kill has been one of the best in the NHL.

What's gone wrong: They've relied too much on Rask; the Bruins are 1-9-2 in games when he hasn't gotten a decision. Center Patrice Bergeron's offensive production has dipped (11 goals, 24 points after 32 goals, 68 points last season). Boston ranks 23rd in goals-per game (2.48) and has been mediocre at home (12-12-0).

Needs: A backup goalie. Neither Anton Khudobin (1-5-1, 3.06 GAA, .885 SV%), Zane McIntyre (0-3-1, 3.95 GAA, .860 SV%) nor Malcolm Subban (0-1-0, 5.88 GAA, .813 SV%) has been able to offer support behind Rask. If Rask gets injured, Boston would be in trouble.

Trophy hopefuls: Rask (Vezina), Bergeron (Selke)

Schedule: Boston has a four-game homestand followed by a four-game Western road trip after the break. It also has a four-game Canada road trip in March and ends with three straight home games. The Bruins play 11 of their final 30 against division opponents.

Outlook: The Bruins are looking to make the playoffs after missing them in each of the past two seasons. Rask can help them get there, but they'll need more offense for it to happen.

Video: PIT@BOS: Rask stones Kessel's late one-timer in 3rd

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

23-15-9, 55 points, 4th in division, 9th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 35 (18 home, 17 away)

Special teams: Power play: 23.3 percent (3rd); penalty kill: 85.4 percent (3rd)

What's gone right: Forward Auston Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, hasn't disappointed since scoring four goals in his NHL debut. He has 23 goals and 16 assists. Rookie forwards Mitchell Marner (11 goals, 28 assists) and William Nylander (10 goals, 21 assists) have added scoring to veterans Nazem Kadri (20 goals) and James van Riemsdyk (17 goals). Goalie Frederik Andersen (21-10-8, .921 SV%) has played superbly since coming over in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks on June 20. Coach Mike Babcock has done an excellent job with the young players. Special teams have been outstanding.

What's gone wrong: Not much, but one thing they could improve is their shootout record. The Maple Leafs are 1-6, and those missed points could come back to haunt them if they miss the playoffs by a few.

Needs: Toronto could use a veteran with playoff experience to help down the stretch and into the postseason, should the Maple Leafs make it. It will be a new experience for a lot of players on the roster.

Trophy hopefuls: Matthews (Calder, Richard), Marner (Calder), Babcock (Adams)

Schedule: Toronto is 9-1-2 in its past 12 road games and plays its first four games after the break away from home. That is followed by a four-game homestand. The Maple Leafs have a four-game homestand to end the regular season.

Outlook: There's a lot to be excited about for the Maple Leafs and it's looking like there will be playoff hockey in Toronto for the first time since 2013 and the second time in 12 seasons.

Video: TOR@DET: Matthews finds twine on great solo effort

 

Florida Panthers

21-19-10, 52 points, 5th in division, 10th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 32 (17 home, 15 away)

Special teams: Power play: 15.5 percent (24th); penalty kill: 84.1 percent (6th)

What's gone right: The offseason acquisitions have paid dividends. Forward Jonathan Marchessault, who signed two-year contract on July 1, is second on the Panthers with 14 goals and 31 points. Defenseman Keith Yandle, acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on June 20, has three goals and 25 points and has strengthened the defense. Goalie James Reimer, who signed a five-year contract on July 1, is 8-6-4 with a 2.58 GAA and a .916 save percentage and has been a solid backup behind Roberto Luongo.

What's gone wrong: After winning the division last season, the Panthers have underachieved, so much so that coach Gerard Gallant, a Jack Adams finalist last season, was fired Nov. 27. He was replaced by general manager Tom Rowe, but the Panthers haven't done much better since (10-9-9). They rank 27th in goals-per game (2.26) and their power play hasn't been good. Injuries to forwards Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles), who hasn't played all season, and Aleksander Barkov (upper body), who could be out for the season, haven't helped. They've had four losing streaks of at least three games.

Needs: Without Huberdeau and Barkov, who ranked third and fourth in points for Florida last season, it'll need to make a move for a scoring center to make a run at the playoffs.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: Florida has three straight home games after the break followed by a five-game road trip and a four-game homestand. The Panthers don't travel out of the Eastern time zone after Feb. 20 (final 25 games).

Outlook: As poorly as they have played, the middle of the division is closely bunched, and the Panthers are four points behind the Bruins with two games in hand for third place and an automatic playoff berth.

Video: FLA@VAN: Jagr finishes McCann's dish to open scoring

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

22-22-6, 50 points, 6th in division, 12th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 32 (19 home, 13 away)

Special teams: Power play: 22.8 percent (tied 4th); penalty kill: 80.2 percent (20th)

What's gone right: Forward Nikita Kucherov has 19 goals and 44 points in 43 games and has taken over as the top scoring threat. Forward Jonathan Drouin has impressed with 31 points (14 goals). Victor Hedman continues to grow into one of the best defensemen in the game, offensively (38 points) and defensively (leads the Lightning with 79 blocks). The power play has scored 41 goals, most in the NHL.

What's gone wrong: The Lightning have been a far cry from the team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Final each of the past two seasons. They've dealt with injuries: Captain Steven Stamkos hasn't played since Nov. 15 because of a torn meniscus, and goalie Ben Bishop (lower body), forward Ryan Callahan (hip) and defenseman Anton Stralman (upper body) have missed time. When healthy, Bishop and backup Andrei Vasilevskiy haven't played well; the Lightning have a 2.88 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. Tampa Bay has won two straight games once since Nov. 19 (Dec. 20-22).

Needs: Whether it's Bishop, or someone through a trade, the goaltending has to be better if they want to return the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Trophy hopefuls: Hedman (Norris)

Schedule: Tampa Bay has a four-game road trip after the break followed by a four-game homestand and another four-game trip. It ends the season with four straight and six of seven against division opponents. The good news is, the Lightning are 9-3-3 against the division and have more games against them down the stretch (15 of the final 32).

Outlook: It won't be easy, but it's not impossible for the Lightning to make the playoffs. It will be easier as a top three team in the division, which isn't out of the question because of the divisional games remaining. Getting Stamkos back, perhaps in mid-March, could get them there.

Video: TBL@CHI: Johnson strikes twice in 30 seconds

 

Buffalo Sabres

20-19-9, 49 points, 7th in division, 14th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 34 (19 home, 15 away)

Special teams: Power play: 22.5 percent (6th); penalty kill: 74.1 percent (29th)

What's gone right: Offseason acquisition forward Kyle Okposo leads the Sabres with 15 goals and 31 points. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has 28 points (three goals) and leads them in ice time per game (27:05). Goalies Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson have been a nice tandem; Buffalo has a team save percentage of .918, tied for fourth in the NHL.

What's gone wrong: Missing center Jack Eichel for the first 21 games of the season didn't help. Eichel has 12 goals and 21 points in 27 games. The penalty kill is second-worst in the NHL, and the Sabres are 1-5 in shootouts. Buffalo hasn't been able to get goals from defensemen (four other than Ristolainen) and has had three losing streaks of at least four games.

Needs: If they think they have a chance at the playoffs, the Sabres need a scorer or two. If not, it's worth trading for draft picks because Eichel has the future looking bright.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: Buffalo hopes to take advantage of four three-game homestands. It also has a four-game road trip in March and three games left against Toronto.

Outlook: Expectations were high, but it's likely another season out of the playoffs, the sixth straight. After improving by 27 points from 2014-15 to 2015-16, the Sabres might not reach that total (81) this season.

Video: BUF@NSH: Eichel makes nifty move, snaps game-winner

 

Detroit Red Wings

20-20-9, 49 points, 8th in division, 15th in Eastern Conference

Remaining games: 33 (16 home, 17 away)

Special teams: Power play: 11.1 percent (30th); penalty kill: 80.7 percent (19th)

What's gone right: Forward Thomas Vanek, who signed a one-year contract as a free agent on July 1, has 12 goals and 31 points, and center Frans Nielsen, who signed a six-year contract, has 10 goals and 26 points. Young forwards Anthony Mantha (11 goals, 22 points) and Andreas Athanasiou (11 goals) have contributed. Goalie Jared Coreau is 5-1-3 with two shutouts, giving Detroit some much-needed help. The Red Wings are 6-0 in shootouts, which could end up being what gets them into the playoffs.

What's gone wrong: The Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak is in serious jeopardy due to their inconsistency, and their 6-2-0 start seems like ages ago. They're on a four-game losing streak, the fourth time this season they've lost at least four in a row. Goalie Jimmy Howard has played well (1.96 GAA, .934 SV%) but has been limited to 17 games because of injury. The power play ranks last in the NHL with 18 goals scored, and Detroit ranks 24th in goals against (2.94) and 25th in goals per game (2.39).

Needs: Detroit needs to improve its penalty kill to have any chance at the playoffs, so acquiring a defenseman likely tops the to-do list.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: Detroit begins a five-game road trip Feb. 28 and plays eight of 12 on the road from then through March 8. The Red Wings will play at Little Caesars Arena next season and close this one with back-to-back home games at Joe Louis Arena.

Outlook: The playoff streak is in danger and it would take an incredible run by the Red Wings, plus faltering by many teams ahead of them, in order to send out The Joe in style.

Video: DET@BOS: Athanasiou shows off mitts on breakaway goal

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