With 28 points in just 17 games played, Boston has a chance to take sole possession of first place with a win on Saturday.
Unlike the Western Conference, the East is wide open this year, making the shortened 48-game season ever more interesting.
The Penguins (13-8-0) currently lead the Atlantic Division with 26 points. Sidney Crosby has continued his dominance this season, already posting 31 points in just 21 games. Marc-Andre Fleury has also been strong, going 10-5 thus far while posting a goals against average of just 2.40. However there has to be concern for the offensive production in the Steel City moving forward — star forward Evgeni Malkin was recently placed on injured reserve for complications due to a concussion.
Montreal (13-4-3) is currently in first place in the Northeast Division with 29 points. Although the Bruins still have three games in hand on the Habs, Montreal has to be considered a threat given its hot start. Carey Price is quietly having a fantastic season for the Canadiens, and the team also has gotten great production out of forward Max Pacioretty.
Also in the division, Boston became aware of the Ottawa Senators’ talent in a tough overtime victory Thursday. The Sens’ 12-6-3 mark has given them 27 points, good enough to be right on the heels of the Bruins and Canadiens. Despite a flurry of injuries to some key pieces, the Senators have kept on keeping on. However, if Ottawa wants to be considered a contender, they must start putting pucks in the back of the net consistently.
The biggest surprise in the East so far has to be the struggles of the New York Rangers. The boys from Broadway are only 9-8-2 and would not be in the postseason if it started on Saturday. However, New York has shown its ability to shine in big games while posting a 2-1 mark against Boston this season. The Rangers have gotten production out of stars Rick Nash and Brad Richards, but unfortunately captain Ryan Callahan has struggled to put up points this year. Although New York is off to a tough start it is hard to count the Blueshirts out just yet.
With all of these talented teams in the East, it is going to make for a very interesting final two months of this NHL season. Although Boston is off to a hot start, the Bruins are well aware of the Eastern Conference foes likely to stand in the way of their second Stanley Cup in three years.
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