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The Northwest Division this week

As the week goes on, the harder it will get for the Flames. They play the struggling Hawks on Tuesday (home), the Blue Jackets on Thursday (road), followed by the tough part: the Sabres on Saturday (road) and the Red Wings on Sunday (road). The weekend games will test the resolve of a Flames team who looks to break out down the stretch drive.

If the Canucks can keep 'rolling', they could win all 3 of their games this week: Tuesday in Edmonton, Wednesday at home against Chicago, and Saturday against the Thrashers. I can't wait until Tuesday's game against the Coilers. It's going to be a rough one with a super playoff-like atmosphere.

The Wild are quietly creeping up on the Canucks recently and look to move ahead. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10. They play in Dallas on Tuesday, at home against Florida on Thursday, and at home against Carolina on Saturday. The game against Florida should be a gimme.

The Oilers now enter a home stand and play the Canucks on Tuesday, Friday against Chicago, and Sunday against Atlanta. If there ever was a time for the Oilers to get rolling again, it would be right now.

The Avalanche are falling out of contention in the NW. They are still above 500, but in the crazy Northwest Division, that's not enough. The Avs are in the middle of a homestand, and will play everyone's punching bag-Florida on Tuesday, Atlanta on Thursday, and Dallas on Sunday.

These teams are not playing against eachother all that much this week. So it seems that by Sunday, the order in the Great Northwest Division should be about the same. The Flames claim to top spot will depend almost entirely on their games against Buffalo and Detroit on the weekend. If they win both of those games, they are for real, and I foresee them pulling away from the rest of the NW.
I wonder how serious the Wild are right now. They could make a serious push for 1st if they keep rolling like they have been, and can stay healthy, which is alot to ask from guys like Demitra and Gaborik.
Isn't it intense cheering for a team in this Division? I don't remember seeing teams this close for this long before. Thanks Gary Bettman!