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Weekly Atlantic Division Snapshot: 3/17 - 3/23

In the eighth edition of the weekly Atlantic Division snapshot, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to soar ahead of the pack, while the Devils, Islanders, Rangers, and even the Flyers are on various spots of the proverbial bubble.

It was a mostly positive week for the Atlantic Division as three teams earned at least four points and one team kept winning everything. The exception this time were the New York Rangers.

Atlantic Standings

Pittsburgh 29 21 8 0 42
New Jersey 29 13 10 6 32
New York Islanders 28 13 12 3 29
New York Rangers 27 13 12 2 28
Philadelphia 29 13 15 1 27

(updated 3.17.2013 at 11:50 EDT)

The Rangers were the only team to move within the Atlantic Division in the past week and it was one spot down. After winning their game on Sunday, they dropped three straight and not in a close fashion. The chatter is that the fans are restless and perhaps so far the players with head coach John Tortorella. Since the Devils, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers each won two games, the Rangers end up nestled in between rivals in fourth. The good news for them is that they still have games in hand so they'll have a chance to make up for it.

However, after this week, it'll be the last place Philadelphia Flyers who will get the benefit of fewer games played. I am not making up their potential points for this week:

Potential Points Last Week Conf. Position
PIT 6 4-0-0 2nd
NJD 6 2-1-1 7th
NYI 6 2-1-0 9th
NYR 6 1-3-0 10th
PHI 2 2-1-0 11th

The Flyers will play one game in this coming week. One. By next week's snapshot, the Flyers will have two games in hand on the Devils, one on the Islanders, and be even with the Rangers. Now is the time for those three teams to get away from Philly. Otherwise, they'll still stay in the mix. The Flyers faithful will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching this week.

Oh, the Flyers will also have two games in hand on Pittsburgh Penguins but that's irrelevant. The Penguins are in control of the Atlantic. They haven't lost a game in March. They probably will at some point but they have ten points on the second-place Devils. While such a lead isn't impossible, it would require the Penguins to really slump along with the Devils (or someone else in the Atlantic) to succeed. They're too good to start dropping all kinds of games left and right in my eyes. It's all up to them with six weeks to go and so the best the rest can hope for is likely fifth in the East, provided Montreal and Boston keep being great.

Anyway, you know who else should be pleased by their current spot: the Islanders. In recent years, they've been well out of the playoff picture with six weeks to go. Not this season; they're well in the mix thanks to coming out of weeks with most of the potential points earned. We'll see whether they can keep it up, but stick around is a big achievement given the past few seasons.

The upcoming schedule for the Atlantic is relatively light on games since Philly has only one game and the rest have three. Each team will get some sort of rest, though the two New York teams will have a tough run of action.

3/17 3/18 3/19 3/20 3/21 3/22 3/23
PIT vs. BOS vs. WSH @ NYI
NJD vs. NYR @ CAR vs. FLA
NYI vs. OTT vs. MTL vs. PIT
NYR vs. CAR @ NJD vs. FLA

The Islanders and Rangers both play their three games this week within four nights. The Islanders have the tougher run between the two. They'll get an Ottawa team that continues to find ways to win without their top players first and then a brutal back-to-back with two of the best teams in the East: Montreal and Pittsburgh. At least they're all home games. The Rangers, by comparison, get a Carolina team that's in a dog fight for the Southeast lead, a road game in Newark, and then a hapless Florida team. They could very well break their slide very soon. Islanders fans will definitely be cheering for the Canes and Devils to smack down Our Hated Rivals, and not just because of who they are. It could make the difference in staying ahead of them in the standings.

As for the Pennsylvania teams, the Penguins get a big test against their winning today against Boston. It'll be followed up with a game against the Capitals and Islanders. I'm not saying they'll easily win them, but I doubt they'll go winless either. The Flyers get their one game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday and they'll wait. There will be a lot of scoreboard watching and grumbles about the team, Peter Laviolette, and Paul Holmgren among the Flyers fans.

Lastly, let's look at our favorite team. Their scoring woes have continued, but at least they got five out of eight last week to keep a little ahead of other Atlantic teams. They really need to get a result against Our Hated Rivals on Tuesday because that could have ramifications for how the Atlantic will look next week. Carolina will be a tough out; the last time the Devils went down there, they got whipped. They'll host Florida and the hope is that by then, the team can score more than a goal or two in the other two games.

What do you think will happen in the Atlantic Division this week? Will the Penguins keep winning? Who will be in second place by next week? How crazy is it that the Flyers get one game this week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Atlantic and the upcoming week for any of the five teams in the comments. Thank you for reading.