Marek Zidlicky, Greg Zanon, Jarome Iginla, Matt Stajan

Northwest Division Watch (March 4)

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.

Northwest Division outlook (March 4 -March 10th)

1. Vancouver Canucks (40-16-9 for 89 pts; 65 Games Played)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Four away games – vs. Los Angeles (Saturday), Anaheim (Sunday), Phoenix (Tuesday) and San Jose (Thursday).

Thoughts: The Canucks’ are comfortably in control of first place in the Northwest, but their hold on the top spot in the West might be a bit tenuous. That’s because they’re facing a tough March. They play four road games against hungry Pacific teams plus another away game against equally anxious Calgary next week, then get three homes games before four more games in a row on the road. If they start April on top of the West, there shouldn’t be much doubt about their power.

2. Calgary Flames (33-24-9 for 75 pts; 66 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Columbus (Fri), home vs. Nashville (Sun), @ Dallas (Wed) and @ Phoenix (Thurs).

Thoughts: There are two ways to look at the upcoming week of games for the Flames. A negative person would point out that they must face teams as desperate as they are in all four contests. A positive one would say that Calgary “controls their own destiny.” Really, both sides are right.

3. Minnesota Wild (34-25-6 for 74 pts; 65 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Home vs. Buffalo (Sun), home vs. Colorado (Tues), @ Nashville (Thurs).

Thoughts: While Minnesota would be wise to store some points by winning those two home games, it’s not like they need to panic about a tough four game road stretch that begins in Nashville. After all, the Wild are 18-12-3 away from Minnesota, a trend that might come in handy if they make the playoffs as a low seed.

4. Colorado Avalanche (26-30-8 for 60 pts; 64 GP)

Current streak: Four straight losses.

Week ahead: Home vs. Edmonton (Sat), @ Minnesota (Tues), home vs. Anaheim (Fri).

Thoughts: The Avs have just one win in their last 15 games. At this point, the team might as well go about losing so they can get almost as many lottery balls as their division mates in Edmonton. It’s sad to see a young, attacking team dissolve like this as the threat of widespread trapping grows, but there’s no denying this team is just a mess right now.

5. Edmonton Oilers (22-35-8 for 52 pts; 65 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: Three road games – vs. Colorado (Sat), Philadelphia (Tues) and Washington (Wed).

Thoughts: I understand that it’s important to build character and confidence by winning at least a bit, but the Oilers must be eye-balling the draft lottery more than anything else right now. Playing five straight road games and seven of their last nine away from home should help them retain the highest odds for another No. 1 pick.

Report: Ducks’ Stewart suffered broken jaw in fight (Video)

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Per the Columbus Dispatch, Anaheim winger Chris Stewart reportedly suffered a broken jaw in his fight on Thursday night with Jackets d-man Dalton Prout.

Stewart, who has eight goals and 18 points in 47 games this year, left the game following the scrap and didn’t return from the third period. Head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t provide any update on the veteran’s condition following the contest.

Assuming Stewart misses time with the injury, it would be a blow to the Anaheim lineup. Though he averages just 10:40 TOI per game, Stewart is a physical presence and has played pretty well of late, with three points in his last five games.

 

With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

Montreal Canadiens' Devante Smith-Pelly , center,and Brendan Gallagher, left, celebrate their victory over the Carolina Hurricanes with goalie Ben Scrivens at an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Last year, it was Devan Dubnyk who saved the Wild and salvaged his career.

This year, could Ben Scrivens do the same for the Montreal Canadiens, and himself?

Admittedly, the odds are against him. But with Carey Price possibly done for the season, there’s at least the potential.

Scrivens, you’ll recall, was acquired from Edmonton in late December. While his first four starts did not go particularly well, he’s been downright solid lately. On Tuesday, he won his third straight, stopping 37 of 39 shots in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. His save percentage in those three wins was .959.

The 29-year-old will make a fourth straight start tonight in Buffalo, getting the nod over Mike Condon, whose save percentage has fallen to a lowly .905 for the season.

Like Dubnyk prior to joining the Wild, Scrivens has had success as an NHL goalie. In 2013-14, he boasted a .931 save percentage in 19 games for the Kings, before he was traded to Edmonton (right after the Oilers had traded Dubnyk, oddly enough) and things started to fall apart.

Also like Dubnyk, Scrivens had to spend some time in the minors before he got another shot with an NHL team.

Look, we’re not saying this is definitely going to happen. Scrivens has only had three good games, and the Habs’ issues since Price went down have extended beyond goaltending.

All we’re saying is that there’s the potential.

Tonight’s game is the first of three on the road for the Canadiens. They play Monday in Arizona and Wednesday in Colorado, before returning home to face Philadelphia next Friday.

Avs waive veteran d-man Guenin, again

at Pepsi Center on October 21, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
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Less than a month after exposing Nate Guenin to waivers, the Avs are at it again.

On Friday, Colorado placed the veteran defenseman on the wire (per TVA), just hours after he was scratched from a 4-3 win over Ottawa on Thursday night.

Guenin, 33, has only appeared in 29 games for the Avs this year, going pointless while averaging just over 13 minutes per night. It’s a far cry from the ’14-15 campaign, in which he posted career highs in games played (76), assists (13) and points (15).

Guenin appears to have been passed on the depth chart by Andrew Bodnarchuk and Chris Bigras, both of whom played against the Sens (another defenseman, Zach Redmond, was a healthy scratch along with Guenin).

Per General Fanager, today’s move might be more about shedding a contract than anything else:

Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Shea Weber, Roman Josi
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Since an 11-3-3 start that saw them pile up 25 points in their first 17 games, the Nashville Predators have played 37 more times and gained just 33 points.

For comparison’s sake, in all 30 teams’ last 37 games, only the Montreal Canadiens (in the midst of a shocking collapse) and the Buffalo Sabres (just not very good) have gained fewer than 33 points.

So yeah, it’s been a struggle. The goaltending and defensive play have been sub-par. Offensively, it hasn’t been very good either.

The good news for the Preds is that they’re still in the playoff race. In fact, thanks in large part to the imploding Wild, Nashville currently occupies the final wild-card spot in the West.

With just nine games remaining before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the players know they’re entering a key stretch.

“I’m sure David Poile and the management have a few different plans,” defenseman Barret Jackman told The Tennessean, “but our thoughts in this room are picking up points and being a playoff contender… and making this team better and making a run for the Stanley Cup.”

By the way, here are those next nine games…

preds

Pretty tough, right? Only Montreal and Toronto aren’t in a playoff spot.

Suffice to say, it would be a huge disappointment if the Preds ended up missing the postseason — especially after acquiring Ryan Johansen, the number-one center everyone kept saying they needed.

Johansen has actually been very good for them; he has 16 points in 14 games.

It’s the team as a whole that needs to pick it up, and soon.

Related: Preds believe Vesey could ‘come in and play right away’