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Northeast Division Watch (February 24)

Patrice Bergeron, Carey Price

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) scores past Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the first period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, April 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)


Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.

Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.

Northeast Division outlook (February 24 -March 2)

1. Boston Bruins (34-19-7 for 75 pts; 60 Games Played)

Current streak: Three wins in a row.

Week ahead: Three road games - vs. Vancouver (Saturday), Edmonton (Sunday) and Ottawa (Tues).

Thoughts: The Bruins really benefited from the Flames, as Calgary beat Montreal in the Heritage Classic and then Boston continued their three-game winning streak by besting Jarome Iginla & Co. We’ll see how the Bruins do in their rugged Canadian tour this week, though.

2. Montreal Canadiens (32-22-7 for 71 pts; 61 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Home against Toronto (Thu), home vs. Carolina (Sat) and away vs. Atlanta (Tues).

Thoughts: Meanwhile, Montreal faces a slew of wannabe playoff teams this week. It could be a nice opportunity for the Habs to gain on the Bruins, but they won’t be playing soft games.

3. Buffalo Sabres (28-25-6 for 62 pts; 59 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Home vs. Ottawa (Fri), home against Detroit (Sat) and away vs. Rangers (Tues).

Thoughts: The Sabres better load up on points against the Senators and Red Wings, because they begin a seven-game road trip against the Rangers next week. It could be a post-trade deadline death of playoff dream or a rallying point for a Buffalo team that is still a bit tough to figure out.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-27-7 for 59 pts; 60 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Away against Montreal (Thu), home vs. Pittsburgh (Sat), @ Atlanta (Sun) and home vs. Pittsburgh (Wed).

Thoughts: They’re ahead of the Devils in the standings, so I feel compelled to consider them a contender. This challenging foursome of games should tell us if the Leafs are the real.

5. Ottawa Senators (20-31-9 for 49 pts; 60 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: Away against Buffalo (Fri), home vs. Philadelphia (Sat) and home vs. Boston (Tues).

Thoughts: The real “showdown” happens between now and February 28th, as the team decides the fate of various remaining trade pieces.