Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

Northwest Division Watch (February 12)

With the All-Star break over, it’s time for the NHL playoff races to intensify. Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division’s outlook. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.

Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.

Northwest Division outlook (February 12-18)

1. Vancouver Canucks (35-11-9 for 79 pts; 55 Games Played)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Calgary (Saturday), @ St. Louis (Monday), @ Minnesota (Tuesday), @Nashville (Thursday).

Thoughts: The Canucks’ real race is with the Philadelphia Flyers, at least right now.

2. Calgary Flames (28-21-8 for 64 pts; 57 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: @ Vancouver (Sat), @ Colorado (Mon), home vs. Dallas (Wed).

Thoughts: It’s still a bit weird to see the Flames all the way up to second place in the Northwest Division, isn’t it? They play against two division leaders and one division rival spiraling down the drain in Colorado this week.

3. Minnesota Wild (29-20-5 for 63 pts; 54 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: Home vs. St. Louis (Sat), Home vs. Vancouver (Tues) @ Chicago (Wed), home vs. Anaheim (Fri).

Thoughts: The Wild are quietly one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Their upcoming schedule is challenging as always, but they play three of the four games in Minnesota so their chances of having a good week are solid.

4. Colorado Avalanche (25-24-6 for 56 pts; 55 GP)

Current streak: Six game losing streak.

Week ahead: @Nashville (Sat), home vs. Calgary (Mon), home vs. Pittsburgh (Wed).

Thoughts: Obviously, the Avs need to get their acts together. Their next two games are tough, but with the Penguins reeling, this might be a good chance to take 5-6 points from those three games.

5. Edmonton Oilers (16-30-8 for 40 pts; 54 pts)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Four home games – vs. Ottawa (Sat), Anaheim (Sun), Dallas (Tues), Montreal (Thurs).

Thoughts: Aside from their blooper bowl game against the Senators, the Oilers have a great chance to play the spoiler role this week. They lost to Chicago 4-1 to begin this six-game homestand.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer