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Playoff Hunt: What's In Store For The Western Conference This Weekend

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Most teams around the league enter this weekend with 14 or 15 games remaining on the regular season slate, so time is starting to run short on teams needing to make a run either to get into the playoffs or to improve seeding within the Conference playoff picture. While no teams can mathematically clinch a playoff spot this weekend, both St. Louis and Vancouver can take steps to make clinching possible during the mid-week games next week.

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 Friday night's games.

Team Points* ROW^ Games Remaining* Max Pts** This Weekend's Schedule
#3^^ Dallas^^ 79^^ 31 14 (7H/7A) 107 Sat vs ANA
#4 Detroit 89 36 15 (8H/7A) 119 Fri. vs LA, Sat at NSH
#5 Nashville 85 37 15 (6H/9A) 115 Sat vs DET, Mon at PHX
#6 Chicago 79 32 14 (8H/6A) 107 Fri vs NYR, Sun vs LA
#7 Phoenix 76 28 14 (7H/7A) 104 Sat vs SJ, Mon vs NSH
#8 San Jose 75 27 16 (8H/8A) 107 Sat at PHX, Mon at EDM
#9 Los Angeles 74 27 15 (7H/8A) 104 Fri at DET, Sun at CHI
#10 Colorado 74 28 13 (6H/7A) 100 Sat vs EDM, Mon vs ANA
#11 Calgary 72 27 15 (9H/6A) 102 Fri vs WPG, Sun at MIN
* as of all games played on Thu, Mar 8      ^ 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 Thu, Mar 8)

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: St. Louis posted a 2-0-0 record on the week to move out of the tracking radar for this weekend (8 points ahead of Nashville) ... Dallas went 2-0-0 on the week to claim the top spot in the Pacific Division ... Calgary also had an unblemished mid-week, picking up a win in its lone game of the week ... Phoenix struggled to an 0-2-1 mark during the mid-week, while San Jose went 0-0-2 at home this week ... Colorado, Los Angeles, and Nashville each went 1-1-0 on the week ... Detroit and Chicago both went 0-1-0 during the mid-week heading into two-game weekend schedules.

Seeding Changes: The same eight teams that were in a playoff seed at the start of the week remain in a playoff seed heading into the weekend, however four of the eight teams changed seeding slots during the week ... Dallas rose four slots to the No. 3 seed and St. Louis moved up one slot into the No. 1 seed ... Vancouver fell one slot to No. 2 and Phoenix fell four slots to No. 7 ... No. 4 Detroit, No. 5 Nashville, No. 6 Chicago, and No. 8 San Jose maintained their same slots this week.

Active Saturday:
Six of the nine featured teams are scheduled for action on Saturday, including head-to-head match-ups between Detroit at Nashville & San Jose at Phoenix ... Dallas will host Anaheim and Colorado will host Edmonton in the other two Saturday games of interest.

Spoiler Alert: The Columbus Blue Jackets have thrived in the role of spoiler, going 4-0-0 to start the month of March with all four wins coming against teams in the Western Conference playoff hunt ... The Jackets swept a home-and-home with Phoenix, won in Colorado, and picked up a home win over Los Angeles during the month.

Best Against the West:
Check out the statistical leaders against Western Conference teams this season (as of games played on Thu., Mar. 8) ...
  Points: Eberle (EDM) - 51pts (48gp); D. Sedin (VAN) - 51pts (51gp); J. Thornton (SJ) - 49pts (49gm)
  D-Man Points: S. Weber (NSH) - 33 (47gp); Suter (NSH) - 33 (49gp); Edler (VAN) - 33 (51gp)
  Goals: Eberle (EDM) - 24 (49gp); Vrbata (PHX) - 24 (50gp); Perry (ANA) - 24 (51gp); D. Sedin - 24 (51gp)
  D-Man Goals: Kronwall (DET) - 11 (54gp); S. Weber (NSH) - 10 (47gp); Pietrangelo (STL) - 9 (52gp)
  Goalie Wins: Rinne (NSH) - 30-13-4; Howard (DET) - 26-11-2; Kiprusoff (CGY) - 24-14-6
  Save Percentage: Elliott (STL) - .933; Quick (LA) - .928; Luongo (VAN) - .928

Tie-Breaker Talk: Where the Preds stand in tie-breaker potentials against the Conference's top-8...
No. 1 St. Louis (STL leads -- STL leads ROW 39-36, NSH won Season-Series 9pts to 4pts w/1 game remaining)
No. 2 Vancouver (NSH leads -- NSH leads ROW 36-35, NSH won Season-Series 5pts to 4pts)
No. 3 Dallas (NSH leads -- NSH leads ROW 36-31)
No. 4 Detroit (DET leads -- ROW is tied 36-36, DET leads Season-Series 6pts to 2pts w/2 games remaining)
No. 6 Chicago (NSH leads -- NSH leads ROW 36-32, NSH won Season-Series 7pts to 2pts w/2 games remaining)
No. 7 Phoenix (NSH leads -- NSH leads ROW 36-28)
No. 8 San Jose (NSH leads -- NSH leads ROW 36-27)
(Nashville also leads the ROW tie-breaker against the No. 9-15 seeds in the Western Conference, the closest margin is a 36-28 lead in ROW against No. 10 seed Colorado)

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