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Western Conference Notebook (Dec. 7)

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
The calendar has switched over to December and still all 15 teams are right in the mix for a Western Conference playoff spot, as no team is more than six points out of a playoff seed. The Conference Notebook will also spotlight one team per division each week (italicized at the top of each division update).

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Central Division
Red Wings Spotlight: Detroit is one game into a stretch where they will play 7-of-9 games at home ... Detroit's leading scorer, Pavel Datsyuk, had a four-game scoring streak snapped last game ... Goaltender Jimmy Howard has started 14 of the team's last 15 games. The lone game he didn't start was Dec. 4 vs. Los Angeles, the back end of a back-to-back set.
All five division teams have at least 30 points (the current playoff cut line in the Western Conference) this season, paced by Detroit with a Conference-high 37 points ... Chicago's Patrick Sharp leads the Conference with 16 goals this season ... Sharp has a division-best 6 goals against Central Divison foes (in 7 Central Division games). Columbus forward Antoine Vermette is second with 5 goals in 7 Central Division games ... Sharp and RJ Umberger (Columbus) are tied for the lead with 10 points in Central Division play ... Fedor Tyutin (Columbus) and David Backes (St. Louis) have a division-best +6 rating in games against Central Division opponents .... There are two intra-divisional games on the schedule for this week: Nashville at Detroit on Wednesday; Columbus at St. Louis on Thursday ... There are six inter-conference match-ups scheduled for this week, including four on Saturday (Detroit at New Jersey, NY Rangers at Columbus, Carolina at St. Louis, and Florida at Nashville). Montreal visits Detroit on Friday and the NY Islanders visit Nashville on Monday for the other inter-conference games.

Northwest Division
Flames Spotlight: The Calgary Flames have alternated wins and losses in each of their last seven games (3-3-1 record) ... Flames captain Jarome Iginla enters this week with a season-best four-game scoring streak.
The Northwest Division is home to the Conference's highest scoring defensemen: Colorado's John-Michael Liles leads conference defensemen with 24 points this season and Minnesota's Brett Burns leads Western d-men with six goals ... Daniel Sedin, Alex Tanguay (Calgary), and Raffi Torres (Vancouver) have a division-best 5 goals in Northwest Division games this season ... Daniel and Henrik Sedin are tied for the division lead with 10 points in Northwest Division games ... Christian Ehrhoff (Vancouver) leads the Northwest with a +7 rating in divisional action. Cory Sarich (Calgary) is second with a +6 rating ... There is only one intra-divisional match-up this week: Vancouver at Edmonton on Sunday ... The division will play six inter-conference games this week: Colorado at Florida and Tampa Bay at Calgary on Tuesday; Colorado at Atlanta and Tampa Bay at Edmonton on Friday; Colorado at Washington and Tampa Bay at Vancouver on Saturday.

Pacific Division
Stars Spotlight: The Dallas Stars have earned a point in seven consecutive games (6-0-1) to jump into the Pacific Division lead ... The line of Loui Eriksson-James Neal-Brad Richards has combined to post 32 goals and 80 points, nearly half of the team's goals (the rest of the roster has combined for 42 goals this year).
Brad Richards (Dallas) is tied for the Conference scoring lead with 31 points this season. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin also has 31 points ... Anaheim's Bobby Ryan leads the way with 7 goals against Divisional foes this year. Corey Perry (Anaheim) and Brad Richards (Dallas) are next with 6 goals against Pacific Division teams ... Perry leads the division with 13 points in Pacific Division games, followed by teammate Ryan Getzlaf with 12 points ... Ryan and teammate Toni Lydman lead the Pacific with +8 ratings in divisional play ... There are two intra-divisional match-ups scheduled this week: Dallas at Phoenix on Saturday; Dallas at San Jose on Monday ... The division will play three inter-conference games this week: San Jose at Phoenix on Wednesday; San Jose at Buffalo on Thursday; Carolina at Dallas on Friday.

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