Feb 22, 2011, 11:15 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.
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.
- Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio 11
- Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’ 14
- No expansion bid expected from Kansas City 33
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 17
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 12
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 13
- Report: Plotnikov paid $500K to get out of KHL contract 14
- Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov 12
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 22
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 25