Rather than the usual Sunday Open Thread, starting this week and going until it’s no longer useful or relevant – either because Calgary’s fallen off the face of the Earth (playoff-wise) or the season ends – we’ll use this space to frame the playoff chase for the upcoming week.
Let’s talk about next week’s schedule!
SAN JOSE (60 PTS)
Record: 27-17-6 in 50 games; second in the Pacific Division
- Monday vs. Edmonton
- Wednesday at Calgary
- Thursday at Vancouver
- Saturday vs. Carolina
Outlook: the Sharks are busy this week. They have tough games against Calgary and Vancouver on the road, and Carolina’s been good lately. They should beat Edmonton, and will have a good shot against Carolina, but the other two games are toss-ups.
WINNIPEG (60 PTS)
Record: 26-17-8 in 51 games; first wild-card position in the West
- Monday at Calgary
- Tuesday at Vancouver
- Friday vs. Chicago
Outlook: The Jets face three teams in playoff spots, including back-to-back games (with travel). It’s possible they could lose all three games this week. They should all be close.
VANCOUVER (57 PTS)
Record: 27-17-3 in 47 games; third in the Pacific Division
- Sunday vs. Minnesota
- Tuesday vs. Winnipeg
- Thursday vs. San Jose
- Saturday vs. Pittsburgh
Outlook: Vancouver’s busy, but consider this: they get Winnipeg, San Jose and Pittsburgh all on the back half of back-to-back games, with each team playing in Calgary the night prior. Combined with games in hand, that’s a big advantage over the Flames (who are chasing them).
CALGARY (57 PTS)
Record: 27-20-3 in 50 games; second wild-card position (three points back of San Jose for second in Pacific, tied with Vancouver for third in Pacific, three points back of Winnipeg for first wild-card)
- Monday vs. Winnipeg
- Wednesday vs. San Jose
- Friday vs. Pittsburgh
Outlook: three tough games for the Flames, with two chances to reel in teams ahead of them in the wildcard (Winnipeg) and divisional (San Jose) playoff pictures. All three games will be evenly matched. I’d suspect they win at least one game this week.
LOS ANGELES (54 PTS)
Record: 21-16-12 in 49 games; three points back of third in Pacific and second wild-card
- Tuesday at Washington
- Thursday at Florida
- Saturday at Tampa Bay
Outlook: lots of travel, and two tough games in Washington and Tampa. I expect them to win one or two of these.
DALLAS (53 PTS)
Record: 23-19-7 in 49 games; four points back of second wild-card
- Tuesday vs. Colorado
- Thursday vs. Tampa Bay
- Saturday at Buffalo
Outlook: Please, please, please let the Tuesday game in Denver be a regulation win for somebody. That’s all I ask. They should beat Buffalo and lose to Tampa by my estimation.
COLORADO (53 PTS)
Record: 21-18-11 in 50 games; four points back of second wild-card
- Tuesday at Dallas
- Thursday vs. Detroit
- Saturday at Minnesota
Outlook: Three tough games against rivals. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see them win all three or lose all three. And as with the Dallas/Colorado tilt, let’s just pray for a regulation game on Saturday.
MINNESOTA (50 PTS)
Record: 22-20-6 in 48 games; seven points back of second wild-card
- Sunday at Vancouver
- Tuesday vs. Chicago
- Saturday vs. Colorado
OutlooK: As with Colorado, I could see Minnesota win all three games this week or lose them all. That said, they could do Calgary a big favour and beat Vancouver tonight.