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Playoff Race: Teams in the West are set

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars


The Western Conference playoff teams are set. The only question now are the matchups, and that will get sorted out over the next few days.

Minnesota clinched the final playoff spot in the Western Conference despite losing its fourth straight game last night, 3-0, to San Jose. But less than 15 minutes after losing to the Sharks, the Wild wrapped up the second wild-card spot when Colorado lost, 4-3, in Nashville.

A couple of hours later when Anaheim lost in overtime, it became clear that Minnesota will play the winner of the Central Division in the first round of the playoffs and Nashville, which holds the first wild-card spot, will play the winner of the Pacific Division. As for the division winners, those are still to be determined.

Chicago isn’t going away in the Central Division race. The Blackhawks beat Arizona, 6-2, last night to pull to within four points of the Stars and Blues, who are tied at 105 points. All three teams have two games left. Chicago is not out of contention to win the division and top seed in the West. If the Blackhawks win their final two games – with at least one of them coming in regulation or overtime – and both the Stars and Blues fail to get any points in their final two games, the Blackhawks would win the division. Not likely, but not impossible.

Nothing has changed for the Stars. They still control their own fate in the race. If they win their final two games against Colorado and Nashville, they will win the division and No. 1 seed in the West. They own the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker over St. Louis, which will force the Blues to finish ahead of the Stars in points to win the division. The Stars have the upper hand in the race right now.

Out in California, it’s a lot tighter today. Anaheim and Los Angeles are tied atop the Pacific Division at 99 points. The Kings won 5-4 in overtime over Calgary, and the Ducks lost 2-1 in overtime to Winnipeg. The Kings have a 45-41 edge in the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker, but the Ducks have played one fewer game, so Anaheim is in first place right now. With both Anaheim and Los Angeles picking up points last night, San Jose’s slim chances of winning the Pacific are now zero. The Sharks still have a shot of moving up from third place to second, but it is a slim one.

There are no key games in the West tonight, but Thursday will be a big night with the Stars hosting Colorado, St. Louis playing at Chicago and the Ducks taking on the Kings in Los Angeles.


Here’s a look at the most likely first-round opponents for the Stars, according to Sportsclubstats.com. There are three possible opponents now that the eight teams are set. If the Stars win the Central, they will face Minnesota. If they don’t win the Central, then it most likely will be Chicago. There is a small chance Chicago could win the division, and if that happens the Stars would play St. Louis. Here are the chances as of today.

Minnesota (76.2%)

Chicago (23.1%)

St. Louis (0.7%)


Chicago 6, Arizona 2

San Jose 3, Minnesota 0

Nashville 4, Colorado 3

Los Angeles 5, Calgary 4 (OT)

Winnipeg 2, Anaheim 1 (OT)


None


Dallas

Los Angeles

Anaheim

St. Louis

Chicago

San Jose

Nashville

Minnesota



CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
Points
105
105
101
99
99
96
94
87
Wins (ROW)
46
43
46
41
45
41
36
35
Games Left
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
1
Home
2
1
1
0
2
2
1
1
Road
0
1
1
3
0
0
1
0
                 
 
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
Apr. 6
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
@LAK
ANA
WPG
ARI
-
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
@COL
WPG
ARI
@DAL
CGY
Apr. 10
-
-
-
@WSH
-
-
-
-

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter 
@StarsInsideEdge.

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