Welcome to the 12th week of our Western Conference playoff race coverage. We’re at the point now where we can declare the Los Angeles Kings fundamentally dead – “You have selected regicide!…“ – but there’s still probably going to be a bit of movement in the standings, primarily in the Pacific Division, before everything’s over.
Let’s check out the race as we begin the weekend!
WHERE THEY STAND
Here’s how things look, with the eight playoff teams basically decided:
The Central: Chicago is a virtual lock to win the division. Minnesota’s the runaway leader for second. St. Louis’ crazy schedule (with very easy opponents) has them with the inside track for third.
The Pacific: With San Jose’s slide, Anaheim and Edmonton are neck and neck for the division lead. It’s between San Jose and whoever doesn’t win the division for the other two spots (in whichever order).
The Wildcards: The Flames have the inside track for the first wildcard, the Predators look to be a virtual lock for the other spot.
In other words, the probable first round looks like:
- Chicago vs. Nashville
- Minnesota vs. St. Louis
- Anaheim/Edmonton vs. Calgary
- San Jose vs. Anaheim/Edmonton
C’mon, Battle of Alberta! (And yes, it does feel weird rooting for the Oilers to win the division for the sake of a fun first round.)
THIS PAST WEEK
The Flames won two of their three games this past week: they beat St. Louis and Colorado, but lost to Los Angeles.
THIS COMING WEEK
The Flames play four times before next Friday. They host San Jose tonight and Anaheim on Sunday, then head to Anaheim on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Thursday.
Focusing in on the teams in Calgary’s general vicinity:
- Anaheim (six points up): they play Edmonton, Calgary (twice) and Chicago.
- Edmonton (five points up): they play Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
- San Jose (three points up): they play Calgary, Vancouver (twice) and Edmonton.
- St. Louis (tied, one game in hand): they play Colorado, Nashville, Winnipeg and Florida.
- Nashville (one point back): they play Minnesota, St. Louis, the NY Islanders and Dallas.