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Lightning, Kings off to chart-topping starts

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
NEW YORK -- The October portion of the 2010-11 regular-season schedule concluded Saturday with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings atop the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively. The Lightning (7-2-1, .750) placed first in the East in October for the first time, while the Kings (8-3-0, .727) topped the West for the first time since 1990-91.

A first-place perch in the conference through Oct. 31 does not guarantee a ring and a parade next June, although seven of the past 12 Stanley Cup champions did lead their conference at that season milestone. The past 12 Stanley Cup-winning clubs are a combined 94-23-17 (.765) in October of their championship season.

First place in the conference has served as a reliable playoff predictor over the years.Only twice in the past 24 seasons has a team missed the playoffs after leading its conference at the end of October. The Philadelphia Flyers missed the Eastern Conference playoffs in 1993-94 and the Toronto Maple Leafs missed the Campbell Conference playoffs in 1988-89. But with just six points separating the top 12 teams in each conference this season, no club can afford to take its foot off the accelerator.

2010-11 TBL (7-2-1) TBD LAK (8-3-0) TBD TBD
2009-10 PIT (11-3-1) 2nd rd loss COL (10-2-2) 1st rd loss CHI (8-4-1)
2008-09 NYR (10-2-1) 1st rd loss SJS (9-2-0) 1st rd loss PIT (5-4-2)
2007-08 OTT (9-1-0) 1st rd loss DET (10-2-1) Won Cup DET (10-2-1)
2006-07 BUF (10-0-1) 3rd rd loss ANA (9-0-3) Won Cup ANA (9-0-3)
2005-06 CAR (8-2-1) Won Cup DET (11-1-0) 1st rd loss CAR (8-2-1)
2003-04 BOS (6-2-3) 1st rd loss VAN (7-2-2) 1st rd loss TBL (6-0-1)
2002-03 PHI (7-1-2) 2nd rd loss MIN (8-1-2) 3rd rd loss NJD (6-2-0)
2001-02 NYI (9-0-2) 1st rd loss DET (11-2-0) Won Cup DET (11-2-0)
2000-01 OTT (7-1-3) 1st rd loss COL (9-1-2) Won Cup COL (9-1-2)
1999-00 TOR (9-3-1) 2nd rd loss PHX (8-2-3) 1st rd loss NJD (6-3-2)
1998-99 PHI (5-3-2) 1st rd loss DAL (6-1-2) Won Cup DAL (6-1-2)
1997-98 OTT (8-3-3) 2nd rd loss DET (10-2-2) Won Cup DET (10-2-2)
1996-97 FLA (8-0-4) 1st rd loss DAL (9-2-0) 1st rd loss DET (7-4-1)
1995-96 PHI (7-1-3) 2nd rd loss COL (7-3-1) Won Cup COL (7-3-1)

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