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Atlantic Division Watch (February 23)

Feb 23, 2011, 11:15 AM EDT

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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.

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