March 5, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks celebrate after a goal by Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at the Honda Center. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Around The Pacific: Stars Streaking, Sharks Sinking

Mar 8, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars center Tomas Vincour (81) congratulates goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) after the game against the San Jose Sharks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

1. Dallas Stars: (38-26-5, 81 points)

Since Last Week: They clobbered Vancouver, squeaked past San Jose in a heroic comeback, and shutout the Ducks. The Dallas Stars keep rolling and improve 9-0-1 in their last ten, the best record of any NHL team in that period of time. The run has put them on top of the Pacific and into the #3 seed in the Western Conference. A truly spectacular run for a team that the media picked to be a cellar-dweller.

Trending: Up. They have no reason to keep this train rolling, and that starts on Tuesday night.

Looking Ahead: And that Tuesday night tilt will be against the Minnesota Wild in the first night of a back to back that will include the Winnipeg Jets on the back end. Not to discount these teams, but when the upcoming schedule is one of the toughest in the league, games against these types of teams are must wins. Those points will go a long way and could save the Stars in the future.

Mar 8, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan (19) celebrates his shootout goal with teammates against the Minnesota Wild at Jobing.com Arena. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

2. Phoenix Coyotes: (34-25-10, 78 points)

Since Last Week: The Coyotes continued slumping with losses to the Blue Jackets and the Wild, but finally got some momentum against the San Jose Sharks, who are in a brutal slump themselves. They’re 5-4-1 in their last ten, which has cost them the Pacific lead, but has kept them right on the Stars tails. Losing against a team like the Blue Jackets was a crushing blow to the Coyotes, and a huge opportunity for Dallas to jump ahead. Phoenix has lost their games in hand, it’s crunch time.

Trending: Neutral. The win was a big one. But will they be able to carry it over into their next game?

Looking Ahead: That next game is TONIGHT against the Nashville Predators. A tall test for Phoenix. This is the type of game where they can show where they stand in the Western Conference.

March 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Kings players react after a goal by Kings center Jeff Carter (not pictured) in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

3. Los Angeles Kings: (32-25-12, 76 points)

Since Last Week: The Kings continue to be a healthy dose of mediocrity. 2-2 in the last week. They look unimpressive, and it seems like Jonathan Quick is finally wearing down after his Venzina-worthy season has essentially be wasted. If they can make the playoffs, it’s a clean slate, but they have to get there first.

Trending: Neutral. They feel a lot like the Coyotes. Not sure where they really stand, but they’re running out of games to prove themselves.

Looking Ahead: The Kings are next in action on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Yet again a measuring stick game.

Mar 8, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) and defenseman Jason Demers (60) and left wing Patrick Marleau (12) prepare to defend against the Dallas Stars power play during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

4. San Jose Sharks: (33-25-9, 75 points)

Since Last Week: They lost twice in the shootout to Edmonton and Dallas, and followed that up with a disappointing shutout loss to Phoenix. They played decent hockey in those shootout losses, but obviously losing the extra point in the skills competition has hurt the morale, and they looked horrible in the last half against Phoenix. Are they giving up?

Trending: Down. If they lose tonight, things might finally be collapsing.

Looking Ahead: That game is against the same Oilers team that beat them earlier this week. The Oilers are pretty terrible recently as well, but they’re 2-1 against the San Jose this year. If they lose to a bottom team, it won’t be a death sentence, but man, you gotta wonder, how much more can the Sharks take? It’s an important game tonight. Some might say enormous. I know I’ll be watching.

5. Anaheim Ducks: (29-30-10, 68 points)

Since Last Week: 1-2 over the last week. The Ducks run for the playoffs is done. Not statistically done, but there’s almost no way they will come back. Now they shift into the spoiler role, and start preparing for next season.

Trending: Neutral. Some teams relish the spoiler role, and the Ducks’ games will have enormous impact around the conference. It’s going to be interesting.

Looking Ahead: All that starts tonight against the Colorado Avalanche, televised nationally on NBCSN. The Avalanche have played more games than any other pack team, so those points are at a premium. This is where the Ducks can help the Stars and the rest of the pack by being in this spoiler role. Another huge game with playoff implications.

 

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Anze Kopitar Bobby Ryan Dallas Stars Jamie Benn Jeff Carter Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton Jonathan Quick Kari Lehtonen Los Angeles Kings Loui Eriksson Michael Ryder Mike Smith Phoenix Coyotes Radim Vrbata San Jose Sharks

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