Feb 17; Newark, NJ, USA; The Anaheim Ducks celebrate a goal by Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) (center) during the second period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Around The Pacific: Here Come The Ducks

Nine points separate first place from last place. The Ducks are now just two points behind the Stars. The Pacific Division is finally looking like it’s old self from yesteryear. Opportunity abound for each and every team, the next week will be very, very interesting.

Feb. 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan watches in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

1. San Jose Sharks: (31-19-7, 69 points)

Since Last Week: The Sharks opened up last week with a solid 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals, but then dropped three straight games to Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Detroit, picking up just three points for the entire week. The slump has allowed things to tighten considerably in the Pacific and San Jose’s rock solid lead has disappeared into a much shakier hold on first place.

Trending: Neutral. The next few games are going to be very important for the Sharks, if they cannot bust the slump, the Coyotes will pass them in no time with the way they have been playing (more on that in a bit). The only saving grace is that the Sharks still hold two games in hand over every other team in the division.

Looking Ahead: The Sharks will play the sixth game of their nine game (!) road trip tomorrow night against the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets, as good a time as any for the Sharks to bounce back.

February 16, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phoenix Coyotes celebrate their 1-0 shut out victory against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

2. Phoenix Coyotes: (29-21-9, 67 points)

Since Last Week: Last week we looked at the Coyotes in the midst of a four game winning streak. Now they’ve extended it to a 7-0-1 record over the last eight games, nearly flawless in the month of February. Who’s to thank for this streak? Mike Smith. The man has given up just five goals in the last seven games. That is simply insane. Mike Smith has been a revelation all year, but it seems like he is only just getting started. The Sharks better watch out.

Trending: Up. Led by Smith, Radim Vrbata, and Ray Whitney, the Coyotes look unstoppable.

Looking Ahead: The Coyotes and Kings meet up tomorrow night in Phoenix. If Phoenix wins, they’ll take four point lead (or three point lead if it goes to OT, which it probably will) over the Kings.

February 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) defends the goal against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

 3. Los Angeles Kings: (27-21-11, 65 points)

Since Last Week: The Kings have only played two games over the last week, and guess what? They lost both by a score of 1-0. How discouraged must Jonathan Quick be? Not much else to say with just two games played, but things aren’t looking great in Los Angeles.

Trending: Down. The Kings cannot score and it is a problem. You have to think they’ll be desperate for a scoring boost before the trade deadline, right? Either way, the Kings have fallen back into the pack fighting for a playoff spot, finding themselves sitting in ninth place, and if something does not change soon, they might find themselves even farther back sooner rather than later.

Looking Ahead: As mentioned, the Kings and Coyotes play tomorrow night. An important opportunity for the Kings to make up some space.

February 18, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) and Alex Goligoski (33) celebrate after a goal during the second period against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

 4. Dallas Stars: (29-26-4, 62 points)

Since Last Week: 1-2-1 over the last week. It’s something, but it is not enough. The Stars have not won back to back games since January 5th/7th. It’s a roller coaster and time is running out. Where’s the consistency? Nowhere to be found. Kari Lehtonen is solid in goal every night, but the Stars cannot score.

Trending: Down.  Jamie Benn is still hurt, and so is Brenden Morrow. The Stars just do not have enough skill right now to put a solid streak together.

Looking Ahead: The Stars have a chance to grab two points tomorrow versus the Montreal Canadiens, a team sitting in the bottom of the Eastern Conference. If the Stars lose tomorrow, will things finally come to a head?

 5. Anaheim Ducks: (25-24-10, 60 points)

Since Last Week: Big surprise, the Ducks are 3-0-1 since our last look. They are unstoppable. In every sense of the word. Everything is clicking all at once and they have picked up a point in every game since February 1st. They are now just two points behind Dallas, and five points out of the eight playoff seed. Where will they be by the end of the week? Tied for a playoff spot? In a playoff spot? It just seems like nothing is going to get in the way of the Ducks now.

Trending: Up, obviously. The only thing that can stop the Ducks is the Ducks themselves, winning and picking up points is automatic. You have to believe the mood in the locker room is one of hope and excitement. Nothing can defeat faith.

Looking Ahead: The Ducks face the Lightning tomorrow night. If they win and the Stars lose, the Ducks will be one game away from taking over the fourth spot in the Pacific Division, a huge achievement.


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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Antti Niemi Anze Kopitar Bobby Ryan Brenden Morrow Corey Perry Dallas Stars Jack Johnson Jamie Benn Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton Jonathan Quick Kari Lehtonen Los Angeles Kings Loui Eriksson Michael Ryder Mike Smith Patrick Marleau Phoenix Coyotes Radim Vrbata Ray Whitney San Jose Sharks Teemu Selanne

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