Feb 23, 2011, 11:15 AM EDT
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.
Atlantic Division outlook (February 23 -March 1)
1. Philadelphia Flyers (39-15-6 for 84 pts; 60 Games Played)
Current streak: One loss in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. NY Islanders (Thursday), @ Ottawa (Saturday).
Thoughts: The Penguins are clearly fading from the Flyers’ rear-view mirror right now, so it’s more about keeping pace with the Vancouver Canucks for the Presidents Trophy.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-20-5 for 77 pts; 61 GP)
Current streak: Two losses in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. San Jose (Wed), @ Carolina (Fri), @ Toronto (Sat).
Thoughts: Is James Neal the “answer” the Penguins have been searching for on the wing? Maybe not in the most absolute way, but he’s a major upgrade for Pittsburgh.
3. New York Rangers (32-26-4 for 68 pts; 62 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: @ Washington (Fri), home vs. Tampa Bay (Sun), home vs Buffalo (Tues).
Thoughts: The Rangers were really struggling coming into Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but they pulled out a win in a three-point game that might have left people groaning.
4. New Jersey Devils (26-30-4 for 68 pts; 60 GP)
Current streak: Eight wins.
Week ahead: @ Tampa Bay (Fri), @ Florida (Sun).
Thoughts: The Devils actually play another game against the Lightning in New Jersey next Wednesday, so it’s been quite the run of non-traditional franchises for the Devils. If nothing else, they made the jump from italics to bold this week.
5. New York Islanders (23-31-7 for 53 pts; 61 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: @ Philadelphia (Thurs), home vs. Washington (Sat), @ Washington (Tues).
Thoughts: The Isles are quietly hot, but this run of three elite East teams might flatten them out a little bit.
- Ouch: Wild reportedly suspend Harding for ‘non-hockey injury’ 4
- Keeping Kuemper: Wild sign goalie to two-year deal reportedly worth $2.5M 9
- Selanne regrets harsh words toward Boudreau 3
- Flyers’ Timonen admits chances of playing are ‘really slim’ 7
- Desjardins (a.k.a. not Torts) makes good first impression on Canucks 22
- Leafs deny rift between Kessel and coaching staff 20
- Injured Crosby, Malkin will miss start of Pens’ camp 10
- Selanne rips Boudreau in book 18
- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? 38
- Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’ 12
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (62)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (54)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)