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Atlantic Division Weekly: Thornton returns to the ice

Is this a story only Sharks fans care about? Probably.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Listen, to many casual NHL fans, Joe Thornton is simply an Old Guy Without A Cup. However, to us Sharks fans, he is a living legend. Sure, he’s at the end of his career, but he is chasing a Stanley Cup and we have to support him. That’s why tonight, we celebrate his return to the ice after suffering an undisclosed injury. Plus, his team is still sitting pretty at the top of the Atlantic Division standings.

Boston Bruins (8-5-0)

The schedule has not been kind to the Bruins this year, but they got a nice five-day break this week and only hit the ice twice. It started on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. Facing off against their old friend Dougie Hamilton’s new club, the B’s came out on top. They won the game 5-2 with goals from Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Derek Haula, and two from Brad Marchand.

Next for the Bruins came their enemies, the Montreal Canadiens. They shut down Montreal, winning that game 5-2, as well. The two Charlies, McAvoy and Coyle, each had a pair of goals, with a single from Taylor Hall.

Buffalo Sabres (7-7-2)

The Sabres did not have the best week. It started off on a low note with a 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the second half of a back-to-back at home on Saturday. While it was a close one, they couldn’t finish the Leafs off. Things picked up come Tuesday, as they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1. Zemgus Girgensons and Collin Miller scored the goals for Buffalo, while Dustin Tokarski made 45 saves between the pipes, a career-high for the goaltender.

Things got real ugly come Thursday, however, The Sabres fell 5-0 to the Calgary Flames. But listen, since Tokarski allowed those five goals, our old friend Aaron Dell made an appearance between the pipes. He made 10 goals, a real victory for Dell.

Defender Henri Jokiharju, who was injured in the season opener on Oct. 14 and has missed 15 games so far, is getting closer to returning to the ice, as he’s started practicing with the team again. He isn’t quite ready for game duty and is officially listed as day-to-day.

Detroit Red Wings (8-9-2)

The Red Wings kicked their busy week off with an overtime win against the Canadiens on Saturday. The final score was 3-2, with two goals scored by Dylan Larkin and one from Pius Suter. Their next game was not a success, falling 5-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick off a four-game road trip.

They played the Dallas Stars the very next night and they did not go easy on the Red Wings. Joe Pavelski and his new crew won that game 5-2. Finally, they finished the week with another 5-2 loss at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights. You’ve heard of two or fewer, but have you tried not letting teams score 5 goals on you, Red Wings?

Compounding on the three-game losing streak, rookie Moritz Seider was injured in Thursday’s loss to Vegas, leaving the ice after blocking a shot. The forward has netted 2 goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

Florida Panthers (12-2-3)

The week started out rocky for the Florida Panthers. They fought hard but eventually fell flat in overtime against their interstate rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. They bounced back majorly, beating the New York Islanders 6-1 when they returned home on Tuesday. It was a real team effort, with goals from Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Lomberg, Frank Vatrano and Carter Verhaeghe.

Joe Thornton finally made his return to the ice for the Panthers' next game against the Devils. They won that game 4-1, but Jumbo Joe did not get on the board just yet.

Center Aleksander Barkov is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. He hasn’t played since Tuesday’s win over New York.

Montreal Canadiens (4-13-2)

It was not a good week to be the Montreal Canadiens, but is it ever a good week to be the Montreal Canadiens? They have had a rough season. Spoiler alert: they did not win a single game this week. It started with a 3-2 loss in overtime to the Red Wings, the closest they got to a win.

The rest of the week was a disaster, to put it simply. The Bruins beat them 5-2, the New York Rangers beat them 3-2 and finally, they got shut out 6-0 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I would say I feel sorry for them, but remember what they did to the Sharks not too long ago? They deserve it.

Sharks legend Mike Hoffman was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a upper-body injury. The 31-year-old forward has tallied 4 goals and 3 assists in 13 games.

Ottawa Senators (4-10-1)

The Senators only hit the ice twice this week and landed one win and one loss. Their win came first and it was pretty impressive. They beat the Penguins 6-3, with two goals from Drake Batherson, and singles from Michael Del Zotto, Parker Kelly and Zach Sanford. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves in net. Their second game of the week was not so great. They were shut out 4-0.

Due to an outbreak of COVID, the Senators have postponed three games. Eight of the ten players affected were removed from Protocol this morning, but leading-scorer Batherson and defender Nikita Zaitsev are still unavailable.

Not much to say here. The poor Senators. Justice for Chris Tierney.

Tampa Bay Lightning (9-3-3)

The Lightning kicked their week off with that 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Joe Thorntons that I mentioned earlier. They kept moving forward with a 4-1 victory over the Islanders on Monday. Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, and Steven Stamkos had the goals, while Andrei Vasilevskiy had 25 saves in net.

The last game of the week ended in a shootout. The team made a quick one-game roadie to face off against Martin Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers and came out on top, 4-3.

Not only are they fairly dominate, but they’ve also remained largely healthy and injury free.

Toronto Maple Leafs (12-5-1)

The Maple Leafs started their week off strong, despite a compact schedule, defeating the Sabres 5-4 with goals from Morgan Rielly, John Tavares, Michael Bunting, David Kampf and Ondrej Kase. Goaltender Joseph Woll, who made his NHL debut during this match, made 23 saves.

The wins kept coming the rest of the week. Toronto beat the Nashville Predators 3-0 with goals from Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and David Kampf on Tuesday. Jack Campbell was back in the net, making 24 saves. They finished the week with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Thursday.

The Leafs made a trade this week, acquiring 30-year-old AHL defender Kyle Clifford from the St. Louis Blues for future considerations. Clifford is on the second year of a $1 million contract that is back-loaded in real dollars. He netted 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 50 games for the Blues last season.