The New Jersey Devils are still atop the Atlantic Division despite some recent struggles, but the Toronto Maple Leafs' continued woes have dropped them to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Over the weekend, they began to do something about it.
The Leafs' revamped roster will be on display as they open a home-and-home set with New Jersey on Tuesday night, two days after a pair of major trades brought several new faces to Toronto.
One of the NHL's proudest franchises is in danger of missing the playoffs for a fifth straight season, and the Leafs' six-game losing streak at the end of a 2-9-2 stretch forced general manager Brian Burke to take action.
On Sunday, Burke acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf from Calgary and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from Anaheim, hoping to shore up a defense that has allowed a league-high 197 goals.
Toronto (17-28-11) also got forward Fredrik Sjostrom and young defenseman Keith Aulie from the Flames, trading away a combined six players including beleaguered goalie Vesa Toskala.
Forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Jason Blake and defenseman Ian White were also shipped out, meaning the Leafs will move on without four players who have combined for 126 points this season. The deals, though, could be just the beginning of a bigger shakeup after Burke said Toronto was "still open for business."
"We've got to create tension where there's enough talent on the roster and a high enough battle level that (coach Ron Wilson) has decisions to make," Burke said. "Right now he doesn't have decisions to make. It's these guys who got to go on the ice. We're trying to change that."
Phaneuf, a two-time All-Star who is just 24, could have the biggest impact. Despite falling out of favor with the struggling Flames, Phaneuf recorded 60 points in 2007-08 and is "hard to play against," according to Burke.
"If Wayne Gretzky can get traded anyone can get traded," Phaneuf said. "I was very surprised, but on the other hand I'm very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world."
Giguere lost his starting job with the Ducks and is 0-4-1 with a 4.28 goals-against average since his last win Dec. 8, but the veteran figures to get more playing time in Toronto.
The Leafs' other remaining goalie, Jonas Gustavsson, was pulled from a 5-4 overtime loss at New Jersey on Friday night after allowing three goals on 19 shots. Toskala was in net for a 5-3 home defeat to Vancouver on Saturday, Toronto's sixth straight loss.
The win over the Leafs was the Devils' only victory in the last four games, and New Jersey (35-17-2) has gone 3-6-1 in its last 10 contests. It looked primed to turn things around before allowing two goals in the final two minutes of a 3-2 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday.
"When the team is playing with confidence those things don't happen," coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Martin Brodeur made 19 saves as he continued to deal with a heavy workload. He has started 32 straight games and appeared in 39 consecutive contests, with a 2.76 GAA in his last 10 starts -- well above his career average of 2.21.
New Jersey holds a slim lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic and will try to benefit from the two meetings with the Leafs this week. The teams meet again Friday in Newark.
Travis Zajac scored the winner and added three assists while Zach Parise also had a four-point game against Toronto last week.