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Pay No Attention to the Penguins Behind the Curtain

Jan 25, 2012, 2:52 PM EDT

Even without captain Sidney Crosby -- who still struggles to return from ongoing concussion issues -- the Pittsburgh Penguins are creeping up the standings.

Even without captain Sidney Crosby — who still struggles to return from ongoing concussion issues — the Pittsburgh Penguins are creeping up the standings.

Following a six game losing streak — the team’s longest since 2006 — the Penguins have won their last seven straight and now sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind your Philadelphia Flyers.

Forward James Neal scored his 27th goal of the season in last night’s shootout win over St. Louis and was just named to the All-Star Team to replace Alexander Ovechkin, while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has started 16 of the team’s last 17 games and isn’t showing any signs of needing a rest.
With New Jersey’s improved play of late (the Devils are holding down the eighth spot in the conference), four of the five teams in the Atlantic Division would qualify for the playoffs if they were to start today.
With the NHL’s unofficial second half set to get underway after this weekend’s All-Star extravaganza, the Flyers’ Atlantic Division matchups only figure to grow tougher, and presumably nastier.