It’s Sunday, and one week has ended and another is about to begin. The Western Conference playoff picture only gets more and more jam-packed.
Let’s check in on the playoff chase.
WINNIPEG (71 POINTS)
Record: 30-20-11 in 61 games; first wild-card team
- Tuesday vs. Dallas
- Thursday vs. St. Louis
Winnipeg is idle most of the week. They’ll be at 63 games by the end. Realistically, I’d expect a split.
VANCOUVER (69 POINTS)
Record: 33-22-3 in 58 games; second place in Pacific Division
- Sunday at NY Islanders
- Tuesday at Boston
- Thursday at Buffalo
By the end of the week, Vancouver will be at 61 games. Long Island is a tough assignment these days, and Boston will be desperate to stay in a playoff spot with Florida breathing down their neck. Buffalo? Could be a trip-up game, or it could be an easy win.
LOS ANGELES (68 POINTS)
Record: 28-18-12 in 58 games; third place in Pacific Division (1 point behind Vancouver for second place)
- Tuesday vs. Detroit
- Thursday vs. Ottawa
- Saturday at Anaheim
The Kings will be at 61 games when the week is over. They have a tough game with Detroit, an easier one against the Senators, then most likely a trench war with the Ducks.
CALGARY (68 POINTS)
Record: 32-23-4 in 59 games; second wild-card team (1 point behind Vancouver for second place, tied with Los Angeles and San Jose for third place, 3 points behind Winnipeg for first wild-card with 2 games in hand)
- Tuesday at NY Rangers
- Wednesday at New Jersey
- Friday at NY Islanders
Calgary will be at 62 games by Sunday. They have a tough pair of games against the Rangers and Islanders, as well as an easier one against the Devils. Travel won’t be horrible, though. They need to steal a win in New York state somewhere and hope they can beat New Jersey.
SAN JOSE (68 POINTS)
Record: 30-23-8 in 61 games (1 point behind Vancouver for second place, tied with Los Angeles and Calgary for third place/second wild-card)
- Thursday vs. Detroit
- Saturday vs. Ottawa
Like the Jets, the Sharks are idle. Unlike the Jets, the Sharks are on the outside looking in. Most likely they should split these games this week. They’ll be at 63 games in a week.
MINNESOTA (67 POINTS)
Record: 30-21-7 in 58 games (4 points behind Winnipeg for first wild-card with 3 games in hand, 1 point behind Calgary for second wild-card)
- Sunday vs. Dallas
- Tuesday vs. Edmonton
- Thursday at Nashville
- Saturday at Colorado
The West’s hottest squadron is also its busiest, getting up to the 62-game mark by the end of the week. Nashville is the toughest game here, and they have the chance to (a) leapfrog many teams this week and (b) end the playoff hopes of both Dallas and Colorado with wins.
But they’ve gotta cool down eventually, right? Right?
DALLAS (63 POINTS)
Record: 27-23-9 in 59 games (8 points behind Winnipeg for first wild-card with 2 games in hand, 5 points behind Calgary for second wild-card)
- Sunday at Minnesota
- Tuesday at Winnipeg
- Friday vs. Colorado
Dallas can fall out of the race entirely by losing out this week, or they can crawl into the muck with the rest of the teams chasing with a trio of wins. All three games look to be close, but they’re all winnable.
COLORADO (61 POINTS)
Record: 25-23-11 in 59 games (10 points behind Winnipeg for first wild-card with 2 games in hand, 7 points behind Calgary for second wild-card)
- Sunday vs. Tampa Bay
- Tuesday at Nashville
- Friday at Dallas
- Saturday vs. Minnesota
Colorado has four games this week, all against teams ahead of them in the NHL standings. They’re far back to begin with. I suspect they’ll fall out of the race this week, unless they somehow win out. In which case, they’ll join the rest of the West in the log-jam.