Mar 18, 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, Underlined = clinched division.
Northwest Division outlook (March 18 -March 24th)
1. Vancouver Canucks (47-16-9 for 103 pts; 72 Games Played)
Current streak: Seven wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. Phoenix (Friday) and @ Detroit (Wednesday).
Thoughts: The Canucks became the first team to cross the 100-point mark and the first team to clinch their division this week. At this point, the Canucks can just rain on other teams’ parades and hope no one else gets injured.
2. Calgary Flames (37-27-9 for 83 pts; 73 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: Three road games – vs. Anaheim (Sun), Los Angeles (Mon) and San Jose (Wed).
Thoughts: The Flames have a loose hold on a playoff spot, but it will be tested, with six of their next seven games on the road. This next week might be the toughest stretch, too, as they take a tour of some formidable California teams. They’ve been playing some impressive hockey lately, but there isn’t much of a margin of error in the West right now.
3. Minnesota Wild (35-29-7 for 77 pts; 71 GP)
Current streak: Four losses in a row.
Week ahead: Three home games vs. Columbus (Sat), Montreal (Sun) and Toronto (Tues).
Thoughts: The bad news is that the Wild went 0-fer on their four-game road trip, which is bad because they needed the points and also because it indicates they might be too dependent on home cooking. The good news is that their next four games are at home, so maybe they can make up some ground.
4. Colorado Avalanche (26-36-8 for 60 pts; 70 GP)
Current streak: Ten straight losses.
Week ahead: Away vs. Edmonton (Sat), home vs. Columbus (Tues) and home vs. Toronto (Thurs).
Thoughts: You know, maybe people hate tanking so much because it’s called tanking. Then again, it’s better than my alternate idea, which is “reverse racing.”
5. Edmonton Oilers (23-39-9 for 55 pts; 71 GP)
Current streak: Five losses in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. Colorado (Sat), @ Nashville (Tues) and @ St. Louis (Thurs).
Thoughts: Well, I already used my comment about tanking on the Avalanche. Say what you will about how awesome the Canucks are – because it’s true – but they did get a few extra cracks at weak teams like the Oilers and Avalanche, plus so-so teams like the Flames and Wild. That must inflate their numbers a bit, right? Maybe?
- Could Lundqvist start Saturday for the Rangers? 6
- Five big games to watch this weekend 6
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 33
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- After Howard fails to ‘bounce back,’ Mrazek to receive ‘opportunity’ 36
- Bruins can’t hold Ducks off, suffer sixth loss in a row 32
- Ticket punched: Rangers become first team to clinch 2015 playoff berth 15
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT 55
- Marchand: If Bruins miss playoffs, ‘this is going to be a much different group next year’ 20
- Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly? 28
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)