Feb 4, 2011, 11:00 AM EST
With the All-Star break over, it’s time for the NHL playoff races to intensify. Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division’s outlook. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.
Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.
Northwest Division outlook (February 4-10)
1. Vancouver Canucks (33-10-9 for 75 pts; 52 Games Played)
Current streak: Four wins in a row.
Week ahead: Three home games: vs. Chicago (Friday), vs. Ottawa (Monday), vs. Anaheim (Wednesday).
Thoughts: The Canucks need not worry about their division foes; their main competition is with the Philadelphia Flyers for the Presidents Trophy right now.
2. Minnesota Wild (27-19-5 for 59 pts; 51 GP)
Current streak: Three wins in a row.
Week ahead: @ Phoenix (Sat), home vs. Colorado (Wed)
Thoughts: As of this writing, the Wild are the seventh ranked team in the conference. They’ve gotten there in a fairly efficient 51 games, so even if their light week makes them drop back into the pack, they are in fairly solid shape. The next seven days may lack for quantity, but they need to wrestle as many points from those two playoff contenders as possible.
3. Calgary Flames (26-21-6 for 58 pts; 53 GP)
Current streak: Six wins in a row.
Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Los Angeles (Sat), vs. Chicago (Mon), vs. Ottawa (Wed).
Thoughts: Counting next Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames will play their next four contests in Calgary. They’ve jumped back into playoff contention, but need every point they can get.
4. Colorado Avalanche (25-20-6 for 56 pts; 51 GP)
Current streak: Three game losing streak.
Week ahead: Home vs. Anaheim (Sat), @ Phoenix (Mon), @ Minnesota (Wed).
Thoughts: The heat is on Colorado right now. The Flames passed them by in the division but played two more games and only hold a two point lead. Meanwhile Craig Anderson & Co. get three cracks on the bottom three teams in the West’s top eight. I’d say they can sleep well at night going a Meatloafian two out of three in those contests.
5. Edmonton Oilers (15-27-8 for 38 pts; 50 GP)
Current streak: Two straight losses.
Week ahead: Three road games – vs. St. Louis (Fri), vs. Columbus (Sat), Nashville (Mon) and one home game vs. Chicago (Wed).
Thoughts: Anyone want Sheldon Souray? No? Oh … OK, then.
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 46
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 16
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 123
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 24
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 17
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 33
- Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history 27
- Supercut: Every goal from the highest-scoring period in All-Star Game history 7
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 4
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (123)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)