Mar 1, 2011, 7:15 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.
Central Division outlook (March 1 -March 7)
1. Detroit Red Wings (39-18-6 for 84 pts; 63 Games Played)
Current streak: Two wins.
Week ahead: Three away games – vs. Anaheim (Wednesday), San Jose (Thursday) and Phoenix (Saturday).
Thoughts: The Red Wings won the first two games of their five-game road trip. If they can win all of them, that would be impressive. Even for Detroit.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (34-23-6 for 74 pts; 63 GP)
Current streak: Five straight wins.
Week ahead: Home vs. Calgary (Wed), home vs. Carolina (Fri) and @ Toronto (Sat).
Thoughts: If you don’t have a horse in the ridiculous Western Conference bubble race, then you should root for the Blackhawks to make the playoffs. They’re far and away the most entertaining team of the bunch and would be a legitimate first round threat for any other team, despite their flaws.
3. Nashville Predators (33-23-8 for 72 pts; 63 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: Three road contests – against Edmonton (Tues), Vancouver (Thurs) and Calgary (Sat).
Thoughts: This week begins a four-game road swing for the Predators (they also play the Sharks next Tuesday). This could be a good barometer of where this scrappy bunch really is in the playoff race.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (31-24-6 for 68 pts; 61 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: Four away games – vs. Vancouver (Tues), Edmonton (Thurs), Calgary (Fri) and St. Louis (Mon).
Thoughts: The Blue Jackets began their five-game road trip with a loss to the Predators and will face a big back-to-back with the Blues next week. Will one Central Division foe deliver a near-death blow to the other team’s postseason dreams then?
5. St. Louis Blues (28-25-9 for 65 pts; 62 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: Home vs. Calgary (Tues), @ Washington (Thurs), @ Islanders (Sat) and home vs. Columbus (Mon).
Thoughts: The Blues are just a loss or two from being totally out of the playoff picture. Really, they might already be out of it, judging by the fact that they’re letting their tree-sized goalie Ben Bishop get some reps (though he’s playing well). They aren’t mathematically out of it yet, though.
- NHL fines Sharks $100K for Torres suspension critique 17
- Toews has beef with officiating after Game 2 loss 27
- Discuss: Red Wings even up series, take down Chicago 4-1 22
- No surgery needed for Eric Staal following injury at Worlds 3
- Playoffs tonight: Detroit and San Jose look to change things up 3
- Bruins’ Hamilton: ‘I don’t feel like a rookie anymore’ 24
- Penguins’ Murray: ‘We need to be better’ 8
- Senators’ coach MacLean: Karlsson ‘wasn’t one of the best players’ 4
- Discuss: Penguins defeat Senators in Game 2; lead series 2-0 40
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators 91
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Discuss: Penguins knock Islanders out of playoffs (99)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (93)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Capitals discuss ‘lopsided’ penalty calls (82)
- Oxbow upsets Orb in Preakness
- PHT: Red Wings even up series with Blackhawks
- PBT: Pacers may not have Hill for Game 6
- PHT: No surgery needed for Staal after brutal hit
- PFT: Jets' Goodson gets five gun and drug charges
- PFT: Chargers ink Freeney for 2 years, $8.5 million
- PFT: Teammate says Titus Young opened up to him
- Play Video: Highlights: Red Wings even series, thump Blackhawks
- Play Video: Filppula scores impressive, unbalanced goal
- Play Video: IIHF highlights: Sweden 3, Finland 0
- Play Video: Highlights: Crosby's hat-trick leads Pens in Game 2
- Play Video: Vokoun robs Greening
- Play Video: Crosby scores twice early on in Game 2