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Northwest Division Watch (March 11)

Mar 11, 2011, 4:46 AM EST

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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.

Northwest Division outlook (March 11 -March 18th)

1. Vancouver Canucks (44-16-9 for 97 pts; 69 Games Played)

Current streak: Four straight wins.

Week ahead: @ Calgary (Sat), home vs. Minnesota (Mon), home vs. Colorado (Wed), and home vs. Phoenix (Fri).

Thoughts: The Canucks have taken the last week to remind the entire Western Conference that they’re the team to beat this year. After a lackluster effort against the Predators at home, they came back with a couple dominating performances in southern California, a win in Phoenix, and a spectacular shootout victory in San Jose. Anyone who thought they had peaked too soon might want to take a step back. Right now they’re the best in the West and are at the top of their game.

2. Calgary Flames (36-25-9 for 81 pts; 70 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Vancouver (Sat), home vs. Phoenix (Tues), home vs. Colorado (Thurs).
Thoughts: Ever since Christmas, the story has been the same. The Flames win and win often. They’ll have a huge showdown with the rival Canucks over the weekend and then a rematch of the 1-0 defeat against the Coyotes on Tuesday. Jay Feaster and Brent Sutter told the team they wanted to win 2 out of every 3 games—they might need to keep up that pace just to make the playoffs.

3. Minnesota Wild (35-26-7 for 77 pts; 68 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three road games: @ Dallas (Fri), @ Vancouver (Mon), @ San Jose (Thurs).
Thoughts: The good news for the Wild is they are only 2 points out of a playoff spot and would win the tie-breaker with every relevant team with 33 regulation/OT wins. The bad news is they are still in 11th place and in the time they should be making a push, they’re 4-4-2. Falling flat on their face in a big game against Nashville was not the way they wanted to start their final push.

4. Colorado Avalanche (26-32-8 for 60 pts; 66 GP)

Current streak: Lost two in a row.

Week ahead: Home vs. Anaheim (Fri), @ Nashville (Sat), @ Vancouver (Wed), @ Calgary (Thurs).
Thoughts: It seems like only a couple of months ago when people were talking about the Avs as one of the young, exciting teams in the league. Unfortunately, anything that could go wrong has gone wrong and golfing season can’t come soon enough. The best news for fans in Colorado? They’re currently looking at the 3rd overall pick in June’s draft.

5. Edmonton Oilers (23-37-8 for 54 pts; 68 GP)

Current streak: Two losses.

Week ahead: @ Detroit (Fri), @ Pittsburgh (Sun), home vs. Phoenix (Thurs).

Thoughts: As if the Oilers needed a reminder where they stand right now, they recently traveled to Philadelphia and Washington and lost by a combined score of 9-1. In 10 days, they’ve lost their top 4 scorers (3 injured, Penner via trade). Forget throwing in the towel—the Oilers might want to just forfeit the rest of their games to avoid any potential problems for next year.

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