Can the West get any wilder?
Ten weeks into the 2010-11 season, the top team in the conference (Detroit) and the last-place team (Edmonton) are separated by only 14 points -- less than half the 30-point margin from first to last in the East. Even wilder, the gap from second-place Dallas to 13th-place Calgary is just eight points. Four teams begin play Friday tied with 38 points, and five more start the weekend even at 35. Two of the five 35-point teams -- Chicago and Phoenix, both among the top four teams in the conference last season -- are on the outside looking in.
"Every night is a playoff game," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan
, whose team climbed into seventh place with a 4-3 overtime win at Dallas on Thursday. "It can come back and bite you if you don't realize that."
It's the second year in a row that the gap from top to bottom in the West has been just 14 points as we reach the week before Christmas. Last season, Los Angeles was on top with 47 points on Dec. 17, while Anaheim was last with 33. In contrast, the top-to-bottom gap ranged from 25 to 36 points on the same date in the three previous seasons.