Playoff Hunt: Western Conference Weekend Outlook

Friday, 03.16.2012 / 4:41 PM / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Playoff Hunt: Western Conference Weekend Outlook
With each passing week it seems like the Western Conference playoff races are getting more jumbled and tougher to predict rather than more settled. Perfect example is the tough-luck plight of the Calgary Flames who entered the week in the No. 8 seed, won both of their games this week, yet still fell out of the playoff seeding to the No. 10 slot heading into Friday night's action thanks to five-point mid-week performances by both Colorado and San Jose.

Entering Friday night's game one point separates the No. 7 - No. 10 seeds, with 11th-seeded Los Angeles just two points behind. No. 6 seed Chicago is only four points ahead of ninth place, while Pacific Division leading (and No. 3 seed) Dallas actually one point behind Chicago (and just three points clear of the No. 9 seed).

Tracking The Playoff Hunt
March 2 - Weekend Preview
March 5 - The Week Ahead
March 9 - Weekend Preview
March 12 - The Week Ahead
Detroit and Nashville, while both holding double-digit leads over ninth place, are in a nip-and-tuck battle for the final home ice seed. The Wings enter Friday night's games with a one point lead on the Preds, but Nashville has played one fewer game; Detroit plays once this weekend, but Nashville plays twice, so even with a win there is no assurance that the Wings would reamain in the No. 4 slot come Monday morning. But that's just life in the Western Conference down the playoff stretch run this season.

There are an additional 12 games involving Western Conference teams on the schedule for this weekend; nine of the 12 have a direct effect on the battles around the bottom of the conference playoff seeds.

We're tracking all teams within six points of the Preds or within six points of the No. 8 seed in the conference standings heading into Monday night's games.


Team Points* ROW^ Games Remaining* Max Pts** This Weekend's Schedule
#2 Vancouver 92 35 12 (7H/5A) 116 Sat vs CBJ, Mon at MIN
#3^^ Dallas^^ 83^^ 33 11 (6H/5A) 105 Fri vs CHI, Tue vs PHX
#4 Detroit 91 37 11 (7H/4A) 113 Sat at SJ, Mon vs WSH
#5 Nashville 90 37 12 (5H/7A) 114 Sat at LA, Sun at ANA
#6 Chicago 84 33 11 (5H/6A) 106 Fri at DAL, Sun vs WSH
#7 Phoenix 81 30 10 (6H/7A) 101 Sun at EDM
#8 Colorado 81 29 9 (4H/5A) 99 Sat at NYR, Tue vs CGY
#9 San Jose 80 28 12 (7H/5A) 104 Sat vs DET, Mon vs ANA
#10 Calgary 80 31 11 (6H/5A) 102 Fri at EDM, Sun vs. CGY
#11 Los Angeles 78 28 12 (6H/6A) 102 Fri at ANA, Sat vs NSH, Tue vs SJ
* as of all games played on Thursday, March 15     ^ the first tie-breaker is regulation/OT wins (excluding shootout wins)
^^ Dallas currently sits in the No. 3 seed by virtue of leading the Pacific Division; division champions are guaranteed the top-3 seeds in both conferences
** the most points a team can finish with in the '11-12 regular season (based on games played as of Thursday, March 15)

Bottom Seeds Excelling: The four teams in the No. 8-11 slots in the Western Conference posted a combined 7-0-2 record during the week ... Colorado and San Jose both went 2-0-1 for five point mid-week showings to move into the No. 8 and No. 9 slots respectively ... Calgary posted a 2-0-0 mid-week but still fell two slots to No. 10 after opening the week in the No. 8 slot ... Los Angeles won its lone game of the mid-week, 5-2 over Detroit, but fell to No. 11 in the Conference standings.


Extra Time: 6 of the 15 games involving Western Conference teams during the mid-week (Monday through Thursday) went past regulation ... 3 of the 6 OT games were tied in the final 5:00 of regulation, including Wednesday night when Colorado scored with less than 2 seconds remaining in the game to force OT at Buffalo ... On Monday, Anaheim scored with 3:52 left in the third to force OT at Colorado (Avs ultimately won in OT) and Phoenix scored with 4:59 left in regulation to force overtime against Nashville (Preds ultimately won in a shootout).


Head-to-Head: There are three head-to-head match-ups on this weekend's schedule featuring teams in the Western Conference playoff watch: No. 6 Chicago at No. 3 Dallas on Friday, No. 5 Nashville at No. 11 Los Angeles on Saturday, and No. 4 Detroit at No. 9 San Jose on Saturday.


Action all Week: The schedule is balanced throughout the week with 4 teams of interest playing on Monday night, Wednesday night, and Friday night ... 5 teams of interest are scheduled to play on Thursday, including head-to-head match-ups with Nashville at San Jose and Phoenix at Calgary ... 6 teams of interest are scheduled to play on Tuesday, including head-to-head match-ups with Detroit at Los Angeles and San Jose at Calgary.


Clinching Scenarios: St. Louis has a magic number of 4 points to clinch a playoff spot. The Blues can clinch with a win on Saturday night and help in other games involving Phoenix, Calgary, and Los Angeles. The Blues are the only team that can clinch  ... Check out the Preds playoff clinch potentials below. The Preds will secure a playoff spot once they clinch over 5 of the 7 teams listed below:

vs. No. 13 Minnesota: magic number of 2 points ... any combination of 2 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Wild would secure Nashville a higher placement than Minnesota in the final standings
vs. No. 12 Anaheim: magic number of 4 points (3 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 3 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Ducks would secure Nashville a higher placement than Anaheim in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-27 (+10 wins, Ducks have 11 games remaining). Nashville has secured the second tie-breaker (Head-to-Head Series) 6pts-to-0pts (1 more head-to-head meeting)
vs. No. 11 Los Angeles: magic number of 13 points (12 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 13 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Kings would secure Nashville a higher placement than LA in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-28 (+9 wins, Kings have 12 games remaining)
vs. No. 10 Calgary: magic number of 13 points (12 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 13 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Flames would secure Nashville a higher placement than Calgary in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-31 (+6 wins, Flames have 11 games remaining)
vs. No. 9 San Jose: magic number of 15 points (14 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 15 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Sharks would secure Nashville a higher placement than San Jose in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-28 (+9 wins, Sharks have 12 games remaining)
vs. No. 8 Colorado: magic number of 10 points (9 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 10 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Avalanche would secure Nashville a higher placement than Colorado in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-29 (+8 wins, Avalanche have 9 games remaining)
vs. No. 7 Phoenix: magic number of 12 points (11 points to force tie breaker) ... any combination of 12 points earned by the Preds or lost by the Coyotoes would secure Nashville a higher placement than the Coyotes in the final standings ... Nashville leads the first tie-breaker (ROW) 37-to-30 (+7 wins, Coyotes have 10 games remaining)
Note: Nashville has already secured a higher placement than Columbus and Edmonton in the final standings


Western Conference Weekend Schedule:
Friday
Chicago at Dallas
Calgary at Edmonton
Los Angeles at Anaheim

Saturday
Nashville at Los Angeles
Colorado at NY Rangers
St. Louis at Tampa Bay
Columbus at Vancouver
Detroit at San Jose

Sunday
Washington at Chicago
Columbus at Calgary
Phoenix at Edmonton
Nashville at Anaheim

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