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Atlantic Division Weekly: We’re back, baby!

Between COVID and the holidays, the Atlantic Division has been a mess lately.

Joe Thornton #19 of the Florida Panthers passes the puck to teammate Owen Tippett #74 during an NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 8, 2022 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

It feels like it's been a lifetime since we recapped the Atlantic Division for you all. Between the global pandemic and the holiday season, our East Coast buddies have been struggling. Games were canceled, breaks were taken, but we are back, baby. Here’s what happened in the first full, uninterrupted week of Atlantic Division hockey we’ve seen in a while.

Boston Bruins (18-11-2)

The poor Bruins, y’all, they have had a rough few weeks. Most of their roster has been out due to health and safety protocols at some point in the last month. However, this week seemed to be better for the B’s. Franchise goaltender Tuukka Rask might be returning soon and the team was finally able to get some wins.

It started with a 4-3 home win in overtime against division rivals, the Buffalo Sabres, on Saturday. They kept the ball rolling, making a quick overnight trip to Michigan to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1.

Boston wasn’t done pumping out wins. They went on to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 on Tuesday, before falling short to the Minnesota Wild, 3-2, on Thursday. The week closed out with a big 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Buffalo Sabres (10-18-6)

Remember how the Sabres looked like they had some life in them at the start of the season? It seems that it no longer exists. After suffering three straight losses, they went into Saturday’s game against the Bruins with some pep in their step. Once they got to overtime, however, they were unsuccessful. They lost that one 4-3.

They only played one more game this week and Sharks fans, you know how that went. The boys in teal took down the Sabres, 3-2. Sorry Sabres, but we do love to see it.

Yesterday’s road game scheduled against the Montreal Canadiens was postponed, to be made up at a later date.

Detroit Red Wings (16-16-3)

I know you all do not want to be reminded of what went down with the Red Wings this week, but sadly I have to report it to you. The good news is that the Bruins did defeat the Red Wings before they turned around to beat our Sharks. Detroit got stomped 5-1, if that softens the blow at all.

Whatever their second game of the week was, we’ll just ignore it! Never happened.

Yesterday, the team traveled to California to start the three-game swing through the Golden State and the Los Angeles Kings shut them out, 4-0.

Florida Panthers (23-7-5)

The Panthers had a good week. It started with a 5-2 win on New Years Day against the Montreal Canadiens. Joe Thornton didn’t play in that game, but he was back in the line-up come Tuesday when his team beat the Calgary Flames, scoring a goal in the 6-2 victory.

The next game was a big one for Jumbo. He played his 1,700th game, climbing to sixth all-time in NHL games played. Though his team fell 6-5 to Joe Pavelski’s new squad, the Dallas Stars, it was still an important match for our old friend. Plus, Pavs got to witness the Panthers honor Jumbo before the game? Is someone cutting onions?

The Panthers kept going on the road, visiting the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Anthony Duclair netted the overtime winner for the Cats, cutting off Carolina’s five-game win streak.

Montreal Canadiens (7-23-4)

Have the Canadiens gotten better since the last time we spoke? Absolutely not. The poor Habs got a win all the way back on Dec. 16, 2021, but prior to that had failed to bring home a victory since the end of November. Now, 22 members of their squad are on COVID Protocol, so they’ve been shut down for the foreseeable future. They only played one game this week, a 5-2 loss to the Panthers.

They are straight-up not having a good time.

Ottawa Senators (9-18-2)

Another team dealing with postponed games is the Senators. Much like the Habs, Ottawa has barely hit the ice over the last few weeks. They faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and lost 6-0. Prior to that, their last game was on Dec. 18. They were supposed to play the Wild and Seattle Kraken earlier in the week, but those games were called off due to COVID-19, as was last night’s scheduled game against the Vancouver Canucks. It’s rough out there, y’all.

I have no highlights to show you. So, here is a compilation their social media team made of some positive 2021 memories:

Tampa Bay Lightning (23-9-5)

The Lightning are having fun while sitting in the second place of their struggling division, trading off the top spot with the Panthers. Sure, their week started out with a 4-0 road loss to the New York Rangers, but it only went up from there.

The team traveled to Ohio, where they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 on Tuesday, before coming to home to douse the Flames, 4-1, on Thursday. The homestand was over quickly, as Boston came to town on Saturday and laid down a 5-2 beating. Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point got the Bolts back in the game in the third period, with just a 4-2 deficit and half the period to go. Brad Marchand netted his second goal of the night, sealing the win for the Bruins.

Unlike the two teams mentioned above, the Lightning is (mostly) having a good time.

Toronto Maple Leafs (22-8-3)

Auston Matthews has COVID. Well, he had a positive test, but then had a negative test, so he was allowed to play again? It’s not surprising, as the Maple Leafs saw a bad outbreak where 14 players and seven staff members tested positive for the virus.

The Leafs played three games this week, starting with a 6-0 defeat over the Senators at home. They returned to Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday to face off against the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid was out on Protocol, but Matthews returned to the line-up and the Leafs won 4-2.

Wednesday’s game against the Canadiens was postpone, so the Leafs headed to Denver to start a four-game road trip. They took a quick lead against the Colorado Avalanche last night and it was 3-1 after the first period, thanks to two goals from Matthews. But three unanswered goals allowed the Avalanche to tie and Devon Toews tucked home the 5-4 overtime winner. Not the best start to a roadie, but it is very Leafs-like behavior.