February 1, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne (8) during a stoppage in play against the Dallas Stars during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Around The Pacific: Gridlock

Jan 31, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan stands behind the bench during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion. San Jose defeated Columbus 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

1. San Jose Sharks: (29-15-6, 64 points)

Since Last Week: The Sharks exploded out of the break with a 6-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets followed by a 5-2 spanking of the Dallas Stars. They were finally knocked off course courtesy of the Phoenix Coyotes last night. Big Joe Thornton‘s six points over the last three games has led the Sharks to the 2-1 record.

Trending: Up. Even with the disappointing loss last night, the Sharks are looking as dangerous as ever, showing offensive punch and defensive stability from the goaltending tandem of Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss. They remain in a solid position to hold the division lead, with games in hand over the entire division, and three games in hand over the second place Los Angeles Kings.

Looking Ahead: The Sharks have a few days off before returning to action against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, February 8th.

Feb 3, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Blues defeated the Kings 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

2. Los Angeles Kings: (25-18-10, 60 points)

Since Last Week: After squeaking out a win against the Blue Jackets, the Kings dropped two straight against St. Louis and Carolina, scoring just four goals over the three games. The two losses have given the trailing Western Conference teams valuable time to close the gap in the playoff race.

Trending: Neutral. The Kings cannot find their offense and it is costing them valuable points. Their style of play will allow them to force OT games and pick up points more often than not, but the Kings are on the precipice. If they keep struggling to win, they’ll be stuck right in the middle of the mob of teams fighting for the final playoff spots.

Looking Ahead: The Kings begin a four-game road trip on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Feb 4, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) and the Stars celebrate their win over the Minnesota Wild at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Wild 2-1 in the overtime shootout. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

3. Dallas Stars: (27-22-2, 56 points)

Since Last Week: The Stars opened the stretch with a 6-2 roasting of the Anaheim Ducks, but faltered against the Sharks, losing 5-2. They picked up a huge two points last night against the Minnesota Wild, giving them a 3-2 record over their last five games. Jamie Benn returned from his appendectomy and despite being held pointless last night, continues to lead the team in points, scoring four over the last three games.

Trending: Neutral. The strong showing against the Ducks had many believing the Stars were capable of making a run, but being clobbered by the Sharks derailed that. After a close victory against the Wild, the Stars will either finally show some consistency or falter once again.

Looking Ahead: The Stars and the Coyotes will face off in a monstrous divisional showdown on Tuesday, February 7th.

Jan. 31, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney (13) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

4. Phoenix Coyotes: (23-21-8, 54 points)

Since Last Week: The Coyotes have played just two games since the break ended, splitting the matches 1-1, losing to the Ducks and defeating the Sharks.

Trending: Neutral. Yes, I know, three straight neutrals! It’s only because we haven’t seen enough yet to know where these teams are headed post-All Star break. The Coyotes are still struggling to play consistently and technically have a 23-29 record. Doesn’t look to pretty when it’s shown that way, is it?

Looking Ahead: The Coyotes and Red Wings will face off TONIGHT on NBC Sports.

5. Anaheim Ducks: (19-24-8, 46 points)

Since Last Week: The Ducks have posted an even 1-1-1 record in the three games out of the break. Winning against Phoenix and dropping two straight against Dallas and Columbus.

Trending: Down. Look, they’ve been on a run, and it’s been impressive, but I just don’t see this team making a miracle come back. They will continue to struggle, and i’ll venture to bet that winning streak they went on will be the only time they play that consistent for the rest of the season. They won’t be as dreadful as they were at the beginning of the season, and they’ll pick up wins every now and then, but there’s no magic to be found for this team.

Looking Ahead: The Ducks and Flames play TONIGHT.

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Tags: Antti Niemi Anze Kopitar Bobby Ryan Corey Perry Jamie Benn Joe Thornton Jonas Hiller Jonathan Quick Kari Lehtonen Loui Eriksson Mike Smith Radim Vrbata Teemu Selanne Thomas Greiss

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