Feb 22, 2011, 11:15 AM EST
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.
Central Division outlook (February 22 -28)
1. Detroit Red Wings (37-16-6 for 80 pts; 59 Games Played)
Current streak: Five wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. San Jose (Tuesday) and Dallas (Thursday), on the road vs. Buffalo (Saturday) and Los Angeles (Monday).
Thoughts: The Red Wings still trail the Vancouver Canucks by five points for the West’s top spot, but if they keep plugging along, they might be able to catch them.
2. Nashville Predators (31-20-8 for 70 pts; 59 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: @ Columbus (Tues), home vs. Chicago (Thurs), @ Dallas (Sat) and home vs. Columbus (Sun).
Thoughts: All four games involve teams that are nipping at the Predators’ heels, which means they can either pull away a bit, stay in neutral with a .500 week or plummet into the muck depending how they play. The West is just a stressful place like that.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (29-23-6 for 64 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: One win in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. Nashville (Tues), home vs. Phoenix (Fri) and @ Nashville (Sun).
Thoughts: The Blue Jackets are red-hot right now, going 6-1-1 in their last eight games to really put themselves back into the thickening thick of things. Two games against the Predators should make for great tests for both teams.
5. St. Louis Blues (27-22-9 for 63 pts; 58 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: Home vs. Colorado (Tues) and three away games: vs. Vancouver (Thurs), Edmonton (Fri) and Calgary (Sun).
Thoughts: The Blues made some big trades last week (see you later, No. 1 draft pick), but they also won three of their last four games. Are they alive and or are they dead in the playoff race? How they fare on this Northwest tour will probably help to answer that question. Maybe.
- Lundqvist hooked after three first-period goals as Rangers’ woes continue 19
- Burke wants the Flames to be — yep, you guessed it — more ‘truculent’ 39
- Flames fire GM Jay Feaster 36
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 19
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 37
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 83
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 33
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (184)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)