The Minnesota Wild are on pace to extend their playoff streak to six straight seasons, but things are heating up in the Western Conference playoff race.
Check out our thoughts on the week ahead below, from first place in the Central Division through a few playoff hopefuls battling for the two wild-card spots. First, a reminder: The top three teams in each division make the playoffs, as well as two wild-card teams.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
If the season ended today the Wild would be …
In. The Wild are three points clear of the Dallas Stars and the first wild-card spot. They'd face the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
Nashville Predators (98 points)
This week: vs. Winnipeg, at Arizona, at Colorado, vs. Dallas
This week: at Washington, at Nashville, vs. Chicago
Notables:Patrik Laine is on the cusp of his first Rocket Richard Trophy. The Finnish wonderteen is up to 40 goals on the season, tied with Alexander Ovechkin, and has nine goals in his last five games. They'll square off Monday.
USA TODAY SportsTom Szczerbowski
Minnesota Wild (85 points)
This week: vs. Colorado, at Vegas, at Arizona
Notables: Speaking of the Rocket, Eric Staal is a surprising contender after scoring his 37th goal of the season Friday in the Wild's win over Vancouver. The Oilers derailed an otherwise strong week for Minnesota, dealing the Wild a 4-1 road loss.
USA TODAY SportsHarrison Barden
WC 1 - Dallas Stars (82 points)
This week: at Canadiens, at Toronto, at Ottawa, at Winnipeg
Notables: The Stars are 14-15-3 on the road heading into a three-game swing through eastern Canada, then a meeting with the high-flying Jets. It's a tall order for a team struggling to hold off the resurgent Avalanche, who have points in their last seven and a game in hand.
USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
WC 2 - Colorado Avalanche (80 points)
This week: at Minnesota, at St. Louis, vs. Nashville, vs. Detroit
Notables:Nathan MacKinnon has points in eight straight and remains a contender for the Hart Trophy. The Avalanche have earned at least a point in seven straight games. A win in Minnesota would take some of the pressure off heading into a meeting with the Predators.
Los Angeles Kings (79 points)
This week: vs. Vancouver, at Arizona, vs. Detroit, vs. New Jersey
Notables:Jeff Carter has six points in seven games since returning to the lineup, but the Kings have fallen out of a playoff spot thanks to home losses to the Blackhawks and Blues. With four very winnable games on tap, they should be able to jump back in this week.
Notables: The Flames snapped their four-game losing streak with wins over the unintimidating Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators, but they've still got work to do. Johnny Gaudreau has finally started scoring again (he has six points in his last four games) and Sean Monahan is showing some signs of life as well, a solid sign that the Flames are ready to hop back into the mix.
St. Louis Blues (77 points)
This week: at Anaheim Ducks, vs. Colorado, vs. NY Rangers, at Chicago
Notables: Trading center Paul Stastny has had the desired effect. The Blues have dropped three of five since the deadline, and had scored just four goals in three games before blasting the Kings 7-2 on the road.