It's a tight race right now in the Northeast Division with only three points standing between first and fifth place. The Boston Bruins are without a doubt the team to beat right now, as they're currently on a hot streak with seven consecutive wins. However, the Montreal Canadiens are currently working their way up from the bottom, while the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs are beginning to cool off. The Ottawa Senators are threatening to take the Northeast Division though, only trailing Buffalo and Toronto by one point.
It goes without saying that the Boston Bruins are on a hot streak, winning seven consecutive games. Tyler Seguin continues to be the best player on the team, notching 6-3-9 in three of those last seven games including three game-winners. However, he has had 0 points in his last two games, and Milan Lucic has also had 0 points in his last three games. Daniel Paille returned on Thursday for the first time since he took a slapshot to the face on November 7th against the New York Islanders. Tuukka Rask had an incredible game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, stopping 30 of 31 shots and ultimately keeping the winning streak going. Andrew Ference also returned to the line-up on Thursday for the first time since November 10th from a lower body injury. Next week, the Bruins will embark on a three-game road trip against the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, and the Buffalo Sabres, and then they will return home for a Black Friday matinee against the currently lackluster Detroit Red Wings.
The Montreal Canadiens are also fighting their way up from the bottom with a 7-2-1 record for their last 10 games. Carey Price has found his rhythm, sporting a .939 sv%, and their relatively inexperienced defense has begun to adapt to the NHL level of play. Max Pacioretty leads the team with 9 goals, three of which came in the last five games. However, Montreal is currently being slammed with injuries as they are currently playing without Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body), Ryan White (hernia), Chris Campoli (hamstring), Andrei Markov (knee) all on the injury reserv. Furthermore, Andreas Engqvist (lower body), Jaroslav Spacek (upper body), and Hall Gill (ill) all remain day-to-day.
The Buffalo Sabres are currently tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 22 points. However, the Sabres are struggling to find consistency. While Jhonas Enroth currently has a .926 sv% and 2.19 GAA, he is coming off of his worst game of the season on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils when he let up 5 of 19 shots while Ryan Miller is out for the foreseeable future with a concussion. Though Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Derek Roy all posted a respectable 6, 7, and 5 points respectively in each of their last 5 games. On Friday, Jason Pominville scored the lone goal against Buffalo assisted by Vanek, bringing them both to a 6-game point streak.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are cooling off of their spectacular start to the season, losing their last three games. Though, they stand a chance to get back on their feet if they step it up against the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, and Anaheim Ducks all of whom (save Tampa Bay) are also in losing streaks of their own. Phil Kessel has cooled off from his hot start, not posting more than one point in a game since November 2nd against the Devils. Kessel did not score in Thursday's tilt against the Nashville Predators and had a less-than-stellar -4 rating. Dion Phaneuf is also in a slump, not having a single point in his last three games, and also ended Thursday's game with a dismal rating of -3. James Reimer, who has been out since October 22nd with concussion symptoms, began skating with the team Friday, though it is not determined as to when he'll be back. Toronto better hope it's soon though, as Jonas Gustavsson is currently only posting a .878 sv% and 3.78 GAA.
The Ottawa Senators are the only other team besides Boston on a winning streak, winning their last three games. However, they have a tough week ahead of them facing the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Jason Spezza has not scored a goal in his last five games, but Craig Anderson has woken up in the last 3 games, stopping 91 of the last 96 shots against him. Ottawa currently has 21 points, and they could easily take the lead in the Northeast within the next few days if they keep playing well.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Buffalo Sabres
3. Ottawa Senators
4. Boston Bruins
5. Montreal Canadiens