Mar 18, 2011, 11:15 AM EST
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?
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 0
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 6
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 9
- Breaking: Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 24
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Burgled: Sens’ Hammond shuts out Kings 14
- Wild get important win vs. Preds (and some luck, too) 41
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs 66
- Panthers acquire Jagr from Devils 29
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- ‘I don’t know why we’re so comfortable,’ says Toews after loss to Avalanche (69)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)