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Playoff Pulse: West could see Wednesday shakeup

Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 11:03 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Playoff Pulse: West could see Wednesday shakeup
With the Kings, Flames, Stars, Avalanche and Sharks all in action Wednesday, the Western Conference playoff race could see a big shakeup.


The Calgary Flames have been written off more times this season than charitable donations on income tax returns. Yet with 11 days left in the regular season, they can move into a three-way tie for seventh place with a victory against the Los Angeles Kings and losses by the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

Even if everything falls perfectly Wednesday night, the 11th-place Flames will still only rise as high as ninth in the Western Conference standings due to tiebreakers, but their 87 points would be tied for the seventh-most in the West with four games remaining.

The ninth-place Kings, who have 86 points, could jump to seventh with a victory at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames have taken two of three in the season series, but the Kings' one victory came in Calgary.

2011-2012 Standings

Western Conference
GP
P
ROW

3
76
88
31
4
76
97
39
5
77
96
40
6
77
93
37
7
76
87
34
8
77
87
31
9
76
86
31
10
78
86
31
11
77
85
32
ROW = total number of regulation plus overtime wins. For tie-breaking purposes, wins obtained in a shootout are not counted. For full standings tiebreakers, click here.
03/28/12 11:08AM
There are five other games on the schedule tonight, with all but one affecting the playoff picture in the West:

Colorado Avalanche at Vancouver Canucks -- Just like the Kings, a win could move the Avs into sole possession of seventh place. The problem for the Avs is after tonight, they have just three games remaining while everyone else competing for the No. 8 spot in the West will have four or five left. A regulation loss in Vancouver means the Avs can max out with 92 points, and right now, it's projected that it will take 93 points to make the playoffs in the West. Meanwhile, the Canucks are four points back of the Blues in the chase for the Presidents' Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs. The Canucks have played one fewer game than St. Louis.

Dallas Stars at Edmonton Oilers -- Depending on how things go Wednesday, the Stars could rise as high as the third seed in the West with a win or drop from seventh place to ninth with a loss. The Stars shouldn't expect a walkover against the Oilers, who have won three of four and are 5-0-2 in their last seven games. The Stars have lost four of six, but are 3-0 against the Oilers this season, outscoring Edmonton 11-3 along the way.

San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks -- With 88 points, the Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division. They have won three straight and five of seven and could put some distance between themselves and the playoff fringe by disposing of the Ducks, who technically aren't eliminated from postseason contention but would need a minor miracle to reach the playoffs. The Ducks, however, have owned the Sharks this season, going 4-1 against their Pacific brethren.

Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets -- Tuesday night's loss by Nashville has opened the door for the Red Wings to open a three-point lead for fourth in the West with a win in Columbus. This is the second half of a home-and-home series. In the first meeting Monday, the Red Wings dismantled Columbus 7-2 behind 2 goals from Tomas Holmstrom and 4 assists apiece from Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi.

New York Rangers at Winnipeg Jets -- Thanks to some help from the rival Islanders beating the Penguins on Tuesday night, the Rangers opened what must feel like a monstrous three-point lead on Pittsburgh for first place in the East. The Rangers can extend the lead to five points over the idle Pens by taking care of the Jets, who had their playoff hopes dealt a crushing blow by Ottawa on Monday night. The Jets are eight points back of Buffalo with a game in hand, but with just six games left, things look bleak in Winnipeg.
Quote of the Day

I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot and let me relax a little bit. It seemed like the fans liked it. I'm glad I was able to score.

— Oilers forward Taylor Hall on lifting his arms to fire up the crowd before his penalty shot
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