Mar 19, 2011, 7:19 PM 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.
Pacific Division outlook (March 19 -March 25th)
1. San Jose Sharks (41-23-8 for 90 pts; 72 Games Played)
Current streak: Two wins in a row.
Week ahead: Home vs. St. Louis (Saturday), home vs. Calgary (Wednesday) and @ Los Angeles (Thursday).
Thoughts: After the next two home games, it’s all Pacific Division matchups for the Sharks. Those closing games include a substantial three games against second place Phoenix, two against Los Angeles and Anaheim, plus one against Dallas. In other words, the Sharks will only have themselves to blame if they let their slim division lead slip away.
2. Phoenix Coyotes (39-23-11 for 89 pts; 73 GP)
Current streak: Five straight wins.
Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Chicago (Sun), St. Louis (Tues) and Columbus (Thurs).
Thoughts: The best thing about Phoenix’s five game winning streak might be that they won four of those contests on the road. They have a great chance to push past San Jose being that they begin a six-game homestand on Sunday and three games remaining versus the Sharks (two of which are at home). Overall, the ‘Yotes only play two of their last nine games on the road, so they must be taken seriously.
3. Los Angeles Kings (40-26-5 for 85 pts; 71 GP)
Current streak: One loss.
Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Anaheim (Sat), Calgary (Mon) and San Jose (Thurs).
Thoughts: It seems like most of the Pacific teams play the majority of their remaining games against each other, with the Kings holding true to that trend. Their five-game homestand didn’t begin well – their fans booed them, after all – but this is still their best chance to improve their playoff prospects.
4. Dallas Stars (38-24-8 for 84 pts; 71 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: Home vs. Philadelphia (Sat) and home vs. Anaheim (Wed).
Thoughts: The Stars need to stock up some points in the next two home games – even if they are far from cakewalks – because they face a harrowing five-game road trip beginning next Saturday in Nashville. That trip begins against the Predators and then swings the team through every Pacific Division squad, making it a high stakes group of games. If they can keep their heads above water after those games, their last four contests are relatively palatable. That’s a big if, though.
5. Anaheim Ducks (38-27-5 for 81 pts; 70 GP)
Current streak: One win.
Week ahead: Away vs. Los Angeles (Sat), home vs. Calgary (Sun), @ Dallas (Wed) and @ Nashville (Thurs).
Thoughts: The rest of March is going to be tough for Anaheim, as they face four of six games on the road against challenging squads. The Ducks’ final five games are against Pacific teams, with two against San Jose and Los Angeles and one contest versus Dallas. It would be awfully interesting if it all came down to their last two games: a home-and-home series with the Kings.
- Getzlaf powers Ducks to Game 2 victory, 2-0 series lead over Stars 0
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind 69
- Detroit stuns favored Bruins with late goal to take Game 1 34
- Crashing Lightning: Montreal crushes Tampa Bay, takes 2-0 series lead 6
- Quenneville gets $25,000 fine for ‘bush-league move’ 12
- NHL looking into Quenneville’s ‘grabby’ gesture from Game 1 41
- Getzlaf to play Game 2, looks awful 20
- Video: PHT Extra — can Detroit exploit Boston’s blueline? 13
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 16
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 63