Feb 19, 2011, 11:30 AM 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.
Pacific Division outlook (February 19 -25)
1. Phoenix Coyotes (31-19-9 for 71 pts; 59 Games Played)
Current streak: Six wins in a row.
Week ahead: Four road games – vs. Nashville (Saturday), Philadelphia (Tuesday), Tampa Bay (Wednesday) and Columbus (Friday).
Thoughts: With five away games in a row and 12 games against teams in the two conferences’ playoff picture, the Desert Dogs might be the next Pacific Division team to see a painful drop. If they make it through that run at No. 1, maybe they’ll do some legitimate damage in the playoffs too.
2. San Jose Sharks (32-20-6 for 70 pts; 59 GP)
Current streak: Two wins in a row.
Week ahead: One home game (vs. Colorado on Sat) then three away games – vs. Detroit (Tues), Pittsburgh (Wed) and Calgary (Fri).
Thoughts: The Pacific is such a confusing mass of quality (but not quite dominant) teams that I’ll just stick with my off-season prediction that the Sharks would win the division again.
3. Los Angeles Kings (32-22-4 for 68 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: @ NY Islanders (Sat), @ Anaheim (Wed), home vs. Minnesota (Thurs).
Thoughts: The impressive thing about the Kings’ nice run back into the thick of things is that they’ve been successful during a brutal 10-game road swing so far. They are 5-0-3, meaning that they’ve squeezed at least a point from every game. If they can beat the Isles and at least make it a three point game between the hated Ducks, this tour would be an outstanding success. As it stands, it’s a testament to a strong willed team that unfortunately (for them) resides in a conference and division full of like-minded squads.
4. Dallas Stars (31-21-6 for 68 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: Three straight losses.
Week ahead: @ Vancouver (Sat), home vs. New Jersey (Tues), @ Detroit (Thurs).
Thoughts: It’s not a snowflake-level original thought but jeez, they’re all the way down to fourth place just like that? This week’s games obviously aren’t going to make the climb back any easier, with games against the two highest ranked teams in the West and possibly the hottest team in the NHL.
5. Anaheim Ducks (32-23-4 for 68 pts; 59 GP)
Current streak: Two losses.
Week ahead: @ St. Louis (Sat), home vs. Los Angeles (Wed), home vs. Minnesota (Fri).
Week ahead: With the possible exception of the long-shot Blues, the Ducks face two teams that are just a touch ahead of them. It’s been impressive to watch Anaheim stay in the picture despite losing Ryan Getzlaf and Jonas Hiller for patches of games.
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