Dallas Stars v San Jose Sharks

Pacific Division Watch (March 12)

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.

Pacific Division outlook (March 12 -March 18th)

1. San Jose Sharks (39-22-7 for 85 pts; 68 Games Played)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Rangers (Saturday), @ Chicago (Monday), @ Dallas (Tuesday), home vs. Minnesota (Thursday).

Thoughts: The Sharks have earned at least one point – mostly wins – in all but one game since February 13th. It’ll be tough to keep up their current pace to end the season, though, as San Jose will play against playoff-caliber teams (aside from St. Louis) in every remaining game this season.

2. Dallas Stars (37-23-8 for 82 pts; 68 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Three home games – vs. Los Angeles (Sun), San Jose (Tues) and Chicago (Thurs).

Thoughts: After going 3-0-1 in a four-game road trip, the Stars began their seven-game road trip with a regulation win and a shootout loss. With five games left on that stand, the Stars can make some serious waves. Of course, Dallas will then play five games in a row on the road, so we’ll see how it goes.

3. Los Angeles Kings (38-25-5 for 81 pts; 68 GP)

Current streak: Two wins in a row.

Week ahead: Away vs. Dallas (Sun), @ Nashville (Tues) and home vs. St. Louis (Thurs).

Thoughts: The Kings are 6-2-1 in their last nine games. After they play in Dallas and Nashville, the team will play their next five in Los Angeles. It could be a really up-and-down month in the Pacific Division, as we’ve discussed before.

4. Phoenix Coyotes (35-23-11 for 81 pts; 69 GP)

Current streak: One win.

Week ahead: Four away games – against Anaheim (Sun), Calgary (Tues), Edmonton (Thurs) and Vancouver (Fri).

Thoughts: After a serious bit of stumbling, the Coyotes seem like they’ve gotten things together by going 2-0-1 in their last three games. They face a tough week that might challenge their rebuilt momentum, though, with four road games against three tough teams. Sunday’s game against the Ducks might be the biggest of all, although Tuesday’s contest against the Flames is important as well.

5. Anaheim Ducks (37-26-5 for 79 pts; 68 GP)

Current streak: Two wins in a row.

Week ahead: Two home games: vs. Phoenix (Sun) and St. Louis (Wed).

Thoughts: After this week, the Ducks play six of their next eight games on the road. This team is incredibly streaky yet resilient, but their mediocre 16-15-3 away record indicates that the end of March might cause some serious damage to their playoff hopes. Then again, this team keeps beating the odds, so you never know.

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

via Iowa Wild

As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)