Northwest Check - "I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghost" Edition

The Avs have a puncher's chance! (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Demons.

We're all haunted by them in some form and we either rise to the occasion or succumb to the depths the demons so desperately seek to drag us into. This truth extends to the hockey rink and reaches into players and teams alike. Every year there are multiple story lines that revolve around a player or team either exorcising their past demons or falling victim to them yet again. For example, Scott Gomez scoring last night means one less demon floating around the ice in a haunted Montreal season.

Closer to home in the Northwest Division, each team faces their own demons as they head into the stretch run of the season and the questions of whether or not they will exorcise them ring louder and louder with each passing game.

Calgary has finished each of the last two season in 10th place, missing the playoffs by 5 points two years ago and 3 points last year and with them currently in 11th place it's become obvious the team in Calgary may not be built to achieve much more than they already have in the past two seasons. Will the Flames figure it out and find the consistency that's going to be needed to leapfrog the 3 teams in front of them and hold off Colorado and suddenly hard-charging Anaheim?

Colorado's struggles after the All-Star break were recently broken down by overlord DDC so I won't rehash work already done.

Edmonton's primary demon seems to be GM Steve Tambellini, who refuses to upgrade the hilariously AHL-quality talent on the roster and for the second straight year is likely to trade away an established NHL player or two for more prospects/picks. This is still a much-improved roster from recent years but injuries and the looming trading deadline threaten to further sink the once-promising Oilers season.

Minnesota's tendency to get outplayed nearly every night but still come out ahead in games would seem unsustainable but we're nearing 60 games played and the Wild continue to defy every piece of hockey logic in the history of forever by picking up 2 points more often than not. Just kidding. They really need to send the NHL a fruit basket because the 8 loser points they've obtained is keeping them afloat. Still, if they can overcome their injury issues and offensive struggles, the Wild are unfortunately likely to be in it at the end.

Vancouver doesn't really have any regular season demons to worry about. Their overall talent combined with a weak division means they're an easy shoe-in for postseason play. Once there, however....hahahaha.


Northwest Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Vancouver 54 34 15 5 73
Minnesota 54 25 21 8 58
Calgary 55 25 22 8 58
Colorado 55 27 25 3 57
Edmonton 54 21 28 5 47

(updated 2.9.2012 at 9:35 PM MST)


Team capsules after the jump.

All standings related info taken from NHL.com...

Calgary Flames ( GP 55 25-22-8 58 Pts)

Last Week: 2-0-2 3-1 W vs. CHI, 2-3 OTL @ ANA, 4-3 W @ SJ, 1-2 OTL @ PHX

Conference Standing: 11th Place

Overall Rankings:

  • Goals For: 2.34 (25th)
  • Goals Against: 2.64 (13th)
  • Power Play %: 18.0 (13th)
  • Penalty Kill %: 83.2 (11th)

This Week: After a busy and fairly productive week last week, the Flames have a relatively easy and certainly less hectic schedule as they return home from a recently completed road trip to host division-dominating Vancouver on Saturday night. Assuming they find a way to lose that, the Flames then await struggling Toronto Tuesday night before heading to the great state of Texas where the lock horns with Dallas on Thursday.

News: Mike Cammalleri is leading a resurgent Flames PP.

Seeking to lighten their off-season to-do list, the Flames got a headstart on building next year's inevitably underwhelming roster by re-signing defenseman Derek Smith to a two-year deal.

Edmonton gets a new arena so naturally Calgary gets the lip quiver and wants to know where their new digs be, yo.

T.J. Brodie really doesn't want to go back to Abbotsford. I guess I don't blame him?

Transactions: Re-signed D Derek Smith to 2-year contract, recalled G Leland Irving from Abbotsford, reassigned G Henrik Karlsson to Abbotsford for a two week conditioning assignment.

Injuries:

  • David Moss is on IR with a foot injury.
  • Derek Smith has a high ankle sprain.
  • Curtis Glencross is currently sidelined with a "lower body" injury.
  • Lee Stempniak is out with a high ankle sprain.

Colorado Avalanche (55 GP 27-25-3 57 Pts)

Last Week: 1-0-1 (REDACTED), 5-2 W vs. CHI

Conference Standings: 12th place

Overall Rankings:

  • Goals For: 2.42 (23rd)
  • Goals Against: 2.76 (18th)
  • Power Play %: 18.9 (9th)
  • Penalty Kill %: 82.0 (16th)

This Week: Every week from here on out is huge as the Avs have an uphill battle facing them but get the pleasure of hosting a struggling Eastern Conference team Friday as Carolina comes to town. The Avs will immediately head off to DIA following the Hurricanes game and leave for St. Louis to play the tail end of a back-to-back before getting 3 full days off and hitting up Vancouver on Wednesday. Another challenging week for the Avs will go a long way to determining what happens in the upcoming trade season.

Edmonton Oilers (54 GP 21-28-5 47 Pts)

Last Week: 1-2-0 5-4 W vs. DET, 3-6 L @ TOR, 2-4 L @ DET

Conference Standings: 14th place

Overall Rankings:

  • Goals For: 2.59 (16th)
  • Goals Against: 2.93 (25th)
  • Power Play %: 21.8 (2nd)
  • Penalty Kill %: 82.8 (12th)

This Week: Just two games for the Oilers this week as they continue to position themselves as everyone's favorite NHL farm team finishes up a 3-game road trip Saturday at Ottawa before getting a 3-day break and heading home as they await visiting Toronto on Wednesday.

News: A young team is bad on the road? Surely you jest!

Ryan Jones, always a bit of an annoyance to play against, continues to hone his all-around game. He's not so bad, y'all.

Ryan Smyth involved in a trade deadline dilemma. Imagine that.

If Edmonton were to get wise and fire GM Steve Tambellini, who would be candidates for his replacement? Oddly, nobody connected with Colorado is named...

Transactions: Recalled LW Magnus Paajarvi.

Injuries:

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out 7-10 days with a shoulder injury.
  • Theo Peckham is day-to-day with a face injury.

Minnesota Wild (54 GP 25-21-8 58 Pts)

Last Week: 0-2-1: 1-2 OTL @ DAL, 1-3 L @ CBJ, 2-5 L vs. VAN

Conference Standing: 10th place

Overall Rankings:

  • Goals For: 2.20 (29th)
  • Goals Against: 2.50 (8th)
  • Power Play %: 14.7 (24th)
  • Penalty Kill %: 82.5 (15th)

This Week: Mikko Koivu's return from injury could be potentially season-changing for the offensively-challenged Wild.

Taking a cure from Calgary, Minnesota decided a marginal defenseman needed to be re-signed ASAP so Nate Prosser has a nice new contract in hand. Good for him!

Thank goodness for Minnesota because the self-proclaimed "State of Hockey" is apparently the sole reason for changing the future of the game. All annoying arrogance aside, this is a decent read about how the roots of the game are changing for the better at the lower levels.

Transactions: Acquired C Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh round pick in exchange for F Casey Wellman, assigned F Chad Rau and F Jed Ortmeyer to Houston, re-signed D Nate Prosser to two year, one way contract.

Injuries: Lazy copy/paste mode ENGAGE.

  • Guillaume Latendresse after skating last week and suffering a setback, he has not practiced with the team since.
  • Jarod Palmer has been diagnosed with concussion symptoms and is on Injured Reserve.
  • Pierre-Marc Bouchard has concussion symptoms and is on Injured Reserve.
  • Clayton Stoner suffered a lower body injury last week and was placed on injured reserve on February 9.

Vancouver Canucks (54 GP 34-15-5 73 Pts)

Last Week: 3-0-0 (REDACTED), 4-3 W @ NSH, 5-2 W @ MIN

Conference Standing: 2nd place

Overall Rankings:

  • Goals For: 3.17 (3rd)
  • Goals Against: 2.41 (7th)
  • Power Play %: 22.9 (1st)
  • Penalty Kill %: 85.7 (6th)

This Week: Vancouver finishes their four-game road trip Saturday at Calgary and subsequently head home for contests against teams scratching and clawing for 8th place in the Western Conference Monday versus Phoenix and Wednesday versus Colorado. Ughhhhh.

News: There is just so much arrogance involved with everything Vancouver right now it drives me insane.

And then there's this awesome story about a few Canucks players visiting recently paralyzed Jack Jablonski. Even Vancouver players can be cool, too.

Title of this article should replace "feisty" with "colossal douchebag". I'd like it a lot more.

As a reminder of what great sports the Canucks fans are, four more people have been charged in the anarchist-led riots following the team's loss in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Transactions: Recalled Byron Bitz and Mike Duco from Chicago (AHL).

Injuries:

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