Feb 18, 2011, 7:13 PM EDT
Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division. 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 18 -24)
1. Vancouver Canucks (37-13-9 for 83 pts; 59 Games Played)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: Three homes games: vs. Dallas (Saturday), Montreal (Tuesday) and St. Louis (Thursday).
Thoughts: Conventional wisdom would suggest that the injury-ravaged Canucks will tread water – at best – on their six game homestand. Yet this team keeps showing personnel perseverance, so who knows, they might go on another tear anyway.
2. Calgary Flames (30-22-8 for 68 pts; 60 GP)
Current streak: Two wins.
Week ahead: Two home games – Heritage Classic vs. Montreal (Sun) and vs. Boston (Tues).
Thoughts: The Flames’ lead over the other bubble teams is misleading because of their high number of games played, so they must keep things in perspective during the Heritage Classic. It’s still shocking that they are hotter than the Canadiens going into this game, though.
3. Minnesota Wild (30-22-5 for 65 pts; 57 GP)
Current streak: Two losses.
Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Anaheim (Fri), vs. Detroit (Sun), vs. Edmonton (Tues) and one away game against Los Angeles (Thurs).
Thoughts: As tough as this week might be, the Wild need to squeeze as many points as possible out of these games. One contest against a true titan (the Red Wings), one contest against a should-be doormat (the Oilers) and then two matches against California teams ahead of Minnesota makes this a challenging seven days. How will they respond?
4. Colorado Avalanche (25-26-7 for 57 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: Nine losses in a row.
Week ahead: @ San Jose (Sat), @ St. Louis (Tues) and home vs. Edmonton (Wed).
Thoughts: Yuck, Colorado. Just … yuck.
5. Edmonton Oilers (18-32-8 for 44 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: Two wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. Atlanta (Sat), @ Minnesota (Tues) and @ Colorado (Wed).
Thoughts: The Oilers organization and its fans hope that this is the last season in which they’re in “spoiler” mode as early as February.
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history 32
- Under Pressure: Mike Johnston 16
- It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT 33
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 47
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 52
- Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history 36
- Different tune: Moore hasn’t settled with Bertuzzi, says brother (Updated) 31
- Rangers win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes 30
- Kovalev compares Subban to Leetch, says he isn’t worth the money 54
- Under pressure: Rick Nash 10