Feb 6, 2011, 9:00 PM 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.
Pacific Division outlook (February 6-13)
1. Dallas Stars (30-18-5 for 65 pts; 53 Games Played)
Current streak: Three loses in a row.
Week ahead: Two home games – vs. Phoenix (Wed), vs. Chicago (Fri).
Thoughts: Dallas is still on top of the Pacific, but to give you an idea of how competitive if it is: they only have a five point lead over last place Los Angeles. Wow.
2. San Jose Sharks (28-19-6 for 62 pts; 53 GP)
Current streak: Three wins in a row.
Week ahead: Three road games – Washington (Tues), Columbus (Wed), New Jersey (Fri).
Thoughts: The Sharks won the first two games of a seven game road trip that continues this week. San Jose will then finish February with three more away games (with two games at home sandwiched in between) before a friendly March schedule begins.
3. Anaheim Ducks (29-21-4 for 62 pts; 54 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: Two road games: vs. Vancouver (Wed) and Calgary (Fri).
Thoughts: The Ducks are in the middle of a Northwest Division tour, having beaten Colorado. They’ll finish it off in Edmonton a week from today.
4. Phoenix Coyotes (26-19-9 for 61 pts; 61 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: At home vs. Colorado (Mon), @ Dallas (Wed), home vs. Chicago (Sat).
Thoughts: The Coyotes earned a 1-0 win playing their style of hockey on Saturday, so they should go into a very tough week with some confidence.
5. Los Angeles Kings (29-22-2 for 60 pts; 53 GP)
Current streak: Two wins in a row.
Week ahead: Two road games @ Pittsburgh (Thurs) and @ Washington (Sat).
Thoughts: The Kings have two wins and five out of six points in the first three games of their lengthy 10-game roadtrip, but this week includes two tough ones. Then again, if you had to catch the Penguins (minus Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) and Capitals (minus Alex Semin, maybe without Mike Green and/or Alex Ovechkin), this might be a good week to do it.
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