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Lightning Round: Atlantic division update

A very early look at the standings

Tampa Bay Lightning v Ottawa Senators Photo by Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images

With most of the teams passing the ten-game mark, let’s take a quick look at how things are going in the Atlantic division. Making predictions at this very early stage of the season is a very naive idea since the situation will change many times over the course of the season, but we can already identify some early contenders and ... the opposite of that.

https://www.nhl.com/standings/2021/division

The Florida Panthers are confidently leading not only the Atlantic division, but also the whole league. Yesterday they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, the only other team that didn’t have a regulation loss before this game, and stood out even more significantly at the top of the league. The Panthers are currently missing their captain and biggest star Alexander Barkov, and just lost their head coach in the past weeks, but even such noticeable losses did not affect them much. The Tampa Bay Lightning will face them next weekend.

After a relatively poor start, the Toronto Maple Leafs got themselves together and pulled out a five-game winning streak, climbing to the second position in the division. Yesterday they beat their biggest rival of the past seasons — the Boston Bruins, but the question is if they can still do it in the postseason.

Our beloved Tampa Bay Lightning are currently sitting at the third position in the division. Given all the offseason changes and losing Nikita Kucherov to injury, a 6-3-2 balance seems very appropriate at this moment. The Bolts have posted a five-game point streak and are slowly finding their game. The next two games, however, will be a good challenge for the team as they will play against the Hurricanes and the Panthers in two consecutive games.

As already happened before, the Buffalo Sabres, after a relatively promising beginning of the season, started to fall in the standings. They’ve lost four games in a row and have earned just one point during this span.

The Detroit Red Wings improved a lot since last season. The team probably won’t be competing for a playoff spot, but they’ve already shown their potential. The rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond fit perfectly into the team’s structure and have already entered early Calder Trophy conversation.

Do not overlook the Boston Bruins. Yes, they’re currently at the bottom half of the standings, but it’s caused by a fewer number of games played by the team. The team is still unbeaten at TD Garden and will definitely climb higher within the course of the season.

The Ottawa Senators’ progress isn’t as noticeable as the Red Wings’ one, but their young talents have also started playing a bigger role for the team and they won’t be an easy opponent for any team in the league.

The Montreal Canadiens are the biggest surprise of the season. The team, which played in the Stanley Cup final just four months ago, couldn’t get their first win until the sixth game of the season and are hopelessly sitting at the lowest position in the division. The team’s offseason additions haven’t paid off yet and they couldn’t find a proper replace for Phillip Danault, who left the team last summer.

Lightning Links

The Lightning defeated the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. Brian Elliott earned his first victory in a Lightning jersey [Raw Charge]

This was a solid win by a veteran team. They didn’t play their best game, made some costly mistakes, but still found a way to win by sticking to what they do best. The players also went out there and did their job. That might sound simple, but executing the roles that they’re assigned is one of the biggest factors to the Lightning’s success over the past two seasons.

The Lightning reassigned defenceman Andrej Sustr to Syracuse. Is Zach Bogosian getting closer to return?

The Syracuse Crunch shut down the Laval Rocket with a 4-0 win yesterday. Amir Miftakhov recorded his first AHL shutout after making 29 saves on that night.