The story in the Atlantic shifts from the hot Islanders of New York to the cold Devils of New Jersey. Ten games into the season and Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Dainius Zubrus and the rest of the offense have only managed 17 goals. That is by far the worst in the NHL. The closest team to the Devils is The Florida Panthers with 18 but they only played seven games so far!
Nobody expected this team to have this much trouble finding the back of the net. On the other end of the spectrum is the goaltending issue. Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedburg have not been able to win games partly because of the lack of offensive support but also because of their high goals against averages of 2.94 for Marty and a staggering 7.5 for Johan although, he has only played one game.
One good thing I can find in this is that the Devils are getting scoring from a wide range of players and not just the top line. Defensively New Jersey needs to find its game again. Defense has always been the strong point of this team and with a strong defense, a strong offense will emerge. As of now the Devils sit at the bottom of the Atlantic with plenty of season ahead of them to turn their play around. Statistically they are among the bottom five teams in the entire NHL but that is a ranking I’m sure will change in the coming months.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the division, The Penguins are back on top and the Rangers have won 3 of their last 4 placing them in excellent position considering they’ve played two less games than Pittsburgh and are only two points back.
The Islanders continue to play well but have given up too many goals in the last few games causing them to drop two straight games.
The Flyers seem to continue their flip-flopping ways, winning one, losing one, winning one, losing one. They will need to put together some win streaks to keep up in this division. Their problems are similar to the Devils, but the difference is they are able to pull off some wins despite their average defensive play to this point.
This is a long 82 game season and from week to week each team in this division might change slightly and face new challenges so nothing is set in stone and it is way too early to start thinking about who will make the playoffs and who won’t. If the Devils win four or five games in a row, they will most likely be on top of the division, so don’t count them out just yet. Early season hiccups are common and teams just need to find their 2010-11 identity. Every year is different.