Most of the teams in the Western Conference playoff picture have about 30 (or so) games remaining. There’s plenty of time for things to go right or wrong for everybody.
Here’s a look at how the race shapes up heading into the coming week.
SAN JOSE (63 POINTS)
Record: 28-19-7 in 54 games; second place in Pacific Division
- Monday vs. Calgary
- Wednesday vs. Washington
- Friday at Arizona
Outlook: The Sharks open the week with a pair of toughies – a crucial divisional game with the Flames and then a visit from Alex Ovechkin’s crew. Then they face Arizona, which could be a trip-up game. They’ll win at least a game here, but a sweep is possible as well. The Flames will have a game in hand on the Jets when the week is over.
WINNIPEG (62 POINTS)
Record: 26-18-10 in 54 games; first wild-card position in the West
- Sunday vs. Colorado
- Tuesday vs. Minnesota
- Thursday at Nashville
- Saturday at Detroit
Outlook: The Jets are busy this week, with three games against divisional opponents and then a trip to the Motor City. The games later in the week are really tough, so hopefully the Jets can get their game going early-on against the Avalanche and Wild. The Flames will have two games in hand on the Jets when the week is over.
VANCOUVER (61 POINTS)
Record: 29-19-3 in 51 games; third place in Pacific Division
- Monday at Minnesota
- Wednesday at Chicago
- Friday vs. Boston
- Saturday at Calgary
Outlook: The Canucks can attempt to take advantage of their games in hand on the Flames this week. However, they face the white-hot Wild, two recent Stanley Cup champions, and the Flames, who are breathing down their necks. They’ll still have a game in hand on Calgary by week’s end, but they have a tough week ahead of them.
CALGARY (61 POINTS)
Record: 29-21-3 in 53 games; second wild-card position in the West (tied for third place in Pacific but Vancouver has 2 games in hand, two points back of second place in Pacific with a game in hand, one point back of first wild-card position with a game in hand)
- Monday at San Jose
- Thursday at Los Angeles
- Saturday vs. Vancouver
Outlook: The Flames remain masters of their own destiny right now. They have three games this week against three teams they’re trying to (a) chase down (in San Jose and Vancouver) or (b) create some distance from (L.A.). They’ll need to win two of three to maintain their breathing room.
MINNESOTA (56 POINTS)
Record: 25-20-6 in 51 games; five points back of the second wild-card spot with two games in hand
- Monday vs. Vancouver
- Tuesday at Winnipeg
- Thursday vs. Florida
- Saturday vs. Carolina
Outlook: Let’s get this out of the way – the Wild were a perfectly functional team that was dragged down by awful goaltending. The big question is this: is Devan Dubnyk an elite NHL goalie? Probably not. So how long will his numbers continue to be elite? And how brutal will the course correction be? At some point the Wild will have an awful, awful week. It’s just a matter of when. (They’ll have a game in hand on Calgary when the week is done.)
LOS ANGELES (56 POINTS)
Record: 22-18-12 in 52 games; five points back of the second wild-card spot with one game in hand (and/or five back of third in the Pacific)
- Monday at Columbus
- Thursday vs. Calgary
- Saturday vs. Washington
Outlook: Washington’s a tough out, Columbus is an easy out, and Calgary’s somewhere in the middle. The Kings have the benefit of home ice advantage against the Flames and experience in having the Flames come back against ’em. Thursday will be a huge game for both teams’ playoff hopes.
COLORADO (55 POINTS)
Record: 22-20-11 in 53 games; six points back of the second wild-card spot
- Sunday at Winnipeg
- Thursday vs. NY Rangers
- Saturday vs. Dallas
Outlook: The Avalanche need to start reeling in the pack. They’re six points back and don’t have games in hand on Calgary – and won’t by the end of the week, either. And they face a Jets team tonight that is trying to work their kinks out before the playoffs, a tough Rangers team and a Dallas team that’s also trying to reel the pack in. The Avalanche have their hands full.
DALLAS (54 POINTS)
Record: 23-21-8 in 52 games; seven points back of the second wild-card spot with one game in hand
- Sunday at NY Rangers
- Tuesday at Boston
- Friday vs. Florida
- Saturday at Colorado
Outlook: As with many other Western teams, the Stars have a week split between tough teams from the East and teams they’re fighting with for playoff spots in the West. And like the Avalanche, the Stars really need to start getting closer to the pack. They have a tough week ahead of them on that front. Again.