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Pacific Division Watch (March 6)

Mar 6, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

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Jamie Langenbrunner,  Ilya Bryzgalov, Keith Yandle, Eric Belanger AP

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 (March 6 -March 12th)

1. San Jose Sharks (38-22-6 for 82 pts; 66 Games Played)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Nashville (Tuesday), Vancouver (Thursday) and Rangers (Saturday).

Thoughts: The Sharks are right in the middle of a six-game homestand, having won two and then losing to the Stars last night. They’ll play six of their next eight at home in general, so they have a great chance to create even more distance between themselves and the rest of the Pacific Division pack. Are they peaking at the right time?

2. Phoenix Coyotes (34-23-10 for 78 pts; 67 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Two home games – vs. Vancouver (Tues) and Calgary (Thurs).

Thoughts: The Coyotes finally stopped the bleeding after losing five games in a row thanks to a dramatic comeback against the Detroit Red Wings, but their work is far from done. They have an interesting schedule coming up, with two more home games this week, then four straight away games followed by a five-game homestand. The vast majority of their remaining 15 contests take place against playoff contenders, so they should be able to make their own adventure.

3. Dallas Stars (35-23-7 for 77 pts; 65 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Away vs. Los Angeles (Mon), home vs. Calgary (Wed) and home vs. Minnesota (Fri).

Thoughts: The Stars will begin a seven-game homestand against the Flames, which will be followed by a five-game road trip. In other words, expect the Pacific Division to be weird – at least on the middle level – throughout the rest of the season. Dallas has a legitimate chance, but who doesn’t?

4. Los Angeles Kings (36-25-4 for 76 pts; 65 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Dallas (Mon), @ Detroit (Wed) and @ Columbus (Fri).

Thoughts: After the Kings host the Stars Monday, they’ll play four straight home games followed by four straight road games. Does every Pacific Division team have some weird all-or-nothing March schedule? It certainly seems that way, which again, will make the rest of the season suitably strange.

5. Anaheim Ducks (35-25-5 for 75 pts; 65 GP)

Current streak: Three wins in a row.

Week ahead: Home vs. Vancouver (Sun), Rangers (Wed) and @ Colorado (Fri).

Thoughts: OK, so the Ducks’ schedule is (relatively) normal compared to the other Pacific teams. Or at least they’ve gotten most of the oddity away in February and the early part of this month. After losing the first two games of their seven-game homestand, they can earn points in six of those seven games if they make it happen against the Canucks and Rangers. Considering all of the turmoil this team keeps facing, that would be quite impressive.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
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  3. J. Quick (1256)
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  5. K. Timonen (1195)