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?
- Two years after winning the Cup, the Kings’ ‘mix’ comes into question 21
- Duck drama: Selanne to sit as healthy scratch in Game 4 13
- MacKinnon, Johnson and Palat named Calder Trophy finalists 10
- Sharks beat Kings in OT, take 3-0 stranglehold on series 40
- Rangers chase Emery, top Flyers for 2-1 series lead 56
- Bruins dominate Red Wings, take 2-1 series lead 48
- And then there were 15: Lightning eliminated 86
- WATCH LIVE: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (Game 3) 2
- Bettman says shootouts are staying, gives salary cap estimate 40
- Video: Yeo asked if Cooke told to ‘target’ Avs, does not like question 64
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (127)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)