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Weekly Atlantic Division Snapshot: 11/27 - 12/3

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In this week's edition of the Atlantic Division snapshot, the Pittsburgh Penguins reclaimed the top spot in the Atlantic and built themselves a nice lead. The Philadelphia Flyers managed to stay ahead of the New York Rangers; while the New Jersey Devils didn't get much help along with not helping themselves. Oh, and the New York Islanders are pretty much in spoiler mode.

Atlantic Standings

Pittsburgh 24 14 6 4 32
Philadelphia 23 13 7 3 29
New York Rangers 20 12 5 3 27
New Jersey 22 12 9 1 25
New York Islanders 21 6 11 4 16

(updated 11.27.2011 at 8:31 AM EST)

After a very busy week, the only change was Pittsburgh re-taking the top. They were one overtime away from sweeping this week as it turned out. I guess a good team getting the best played in hockey back on the ice helps? In either case, let's find out where the division stands and what's next after the jump.

In the past week, four out of the five teams in the division earned at least half of all potential points. Pittsburgh moved up because they earned notably more points while the Flyers didn't.
Potential Points Last Week Conf. Position
PIT 6 3-0-1 1st
PHI 4 2-2-0 4th
NYR 6 2-1-0 5th
NJD 6 2-2-0 9th
NYI 6 1-2-1 15th

Interestingly, the four teams haven't moved around in the Eastern Conference all that much. The Rangers only moved up a spot and the Flyers and Penguins just swapped first and fourth. As much as Devils fan feel disappointed that they dropped points in two games last week, they're not at all out of the thick of things. While they missed a real opportunity to move up; but all things told, they're still only two points behind fifth in the East. The only team that really pulled themselves away in this last week were the Penguins. The rest of the division and conference remains up for grabs.

Anyway, the Rangers remain in the best spot in the standings because they're still getting positive results and with games in hand on everyone else. Yes, they even have one on the Islanders, though it really doesn't matter at this juncture. They'll use one of them up over the Flyers in this coming week, as will the Devils. Unlike the Devils, the Rangers will still have two games in hand on Philly after this week; along with two on the Devils and four on the Penguins. Say what you want about them, but they continue to have great leverage in the standings. That's incredibly useful for when their eventual slump hits them in the collective stomach.

This is how the week ahead looks for the Atlantic Division:

11/27 11/28 11/29 11/30 12/1 12/2 12/3

Everyone in the Atlantic will be familiar with buses and planes in this week. There will only be one home game among all five teams and it's the lone intra-division game of the week: Penguins at Rangers on Tuesday. For the Devils faithful, the correct team to root for is not-the-Rangers. The Penguins will remain at the top of the division unless they drop all three games this week (they won't) and the Flyers win both of their games (they probably won't).

Given how the schedule breaks down, the Devils would benefit within the division by the Southeast standing tall against the Penguins and Rangers. Yet, the Rangers and Penguins taking points would push the Canes back in the conference and keep the Caps and Bolts down for a little bit. The Flyers get to rest until a tough back-to-back with Anaheim and Phoenix. Given the long break prior, I'd say that's easier than the Devils three-games-in-four-nights on the road.

Yes, the Devils are back on another four-game road trip, and this week has the bulk of it. Colorado is a team snakebit when it comes to shooting and needs points badly within the West. Minnesota currently leads the Northwest division so that's tough; and it's followed by an intra-conference game with Winnipeg. The Devils certainly have a shot at moving up in the division depending on what the Rangers and Flyers do. Last week's two wins out of four games doesn't hurt too much. It's certainly going to be difficult; then again, aren't they all?

Will the Devils put in a positive week of results? How do you see the rest of the Atlantic playing out? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Atlantic Division in the comments. Thanks for reading.