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Pacific Division Watch (March 12)

Dallas Stars v San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 5: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars race for the puck with Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks in the second period during an NHL hockey game at the HP Pavilion on March 5, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Stars won the game 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Thearon W. Henderson

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.