Jets and Ducks up in the Western Conference; Kings and Coyotes struggling

Trending up

  • Team Toews: With Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews at the helm, Team Toews topped Team Foligno 17-12 in the highest-scoring All-Star Game in NHL history. A triumph in goaltending and defense it was not, but the offensive affair was enough to keep hockey fans entertained for a night of fun among the game’s biggest stars.

  • Winnipeg Jets: The Jets took a five-game winning streak into the All-Star break after a 4-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, a win that has them trailing the Blackhawks by a mere two points in the Central Division standings. Coach Paul Maurice and his charges resume their schedule with a road trip to Pennsylvania that features stops in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

  • Anaheim Ducks: The Jets are not the only team rolling in the West, but it's hardly anything new for the league-leading Ducks. The Ducks have also rattled off five consecutive victories, outscoring opponents 23-10 during that span. And we already know how much Anaheim thrives in tight games: the Ducks have a dazzling 22-0-6 record in one-goal games this season.

Trending down

  • Los Angeles Kings: Winners in just two of their last 10 games, the defending Stanley Cup champions are looking less and less like the team that we saw last spring. Discipline seems to be one apparent issue, with the Kings surrendering two power-play goals to the San Jose Sharks in their most recent loss before the break and a struggling penalty kill that ranks 25th with a 77.8 percent success rate.

  • Arizona Coyotes: Definitely a team that deserves a spot in the Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel conversation for the No. 1 overall draft pick, it’s a wonder that the fire sale has not yet begun for a downtrodden group that dropped six straight heading into this weekend's festivities. How much farther can the Yotes slide down the standings? A five-game road trip coming up should give us a good idea.

Injury report

  • Johnson to sit: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson will be forced to sit out Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators, per league rules following his absence from the All-Star Game in Columbus this past weekend. Because Johnson played in the Avs' shootout win against the Bruins before the break, he is not eligible to return until the Avs’ complete a home-and-home set against the Preds on Friday.

  • Kuemper getting close: With the Minnesota Wild’s abundance of goaltending issues, there is at least some solace in the fact that Darcy Kuemper is on the mend. Though Wild coach Mike Yeo was considering a conditioning stint for the 24-year-old netminder, Kuemper was thrown into action when recently acquired Devan Dubnyk struggled against the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday.

What to watch for

  • Nashville nets: While Vezina Trophy front-runner Pekka Rinne remains out with a sprained knee, it will be up to Carter Hutton to take the reins for the Predators in his absence. Nashville is perched atop the Central Division standings with a three-point lead over the second-place Blues, but the two teams square off head-to-head on Thursday in St. Louis.

  • Hitting the road: Blackhawks fans are hoping their team got plenty of rest over the weekend -- at least those players who were not selected to take part in the activities -- because the Hawks open with a daunting six-game trip Wednesday in Los Angeles. The grueling jaunt also features stops in Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota, Winnipeg and St. Louis.

  • O’Reilly's future: As the trade deadline approaches, expect to be hearing Ryan O'Reilly's name much more often as teams inquire about his availability. O’Reilly and Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle could be among the big names in play in the West with teams looking to upgrade before the playoffs.