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Statistically Speaking: Monitoring the Western Conference playoff bubble

With the postseason a little more than a month away, seven teams are battling for the final four playoff spots

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

With seven weeks remaining in the NHL's regular season, and Western Conference teams packed tightly in the standings, players, coaches and fans alike will begin the nightly routine of scoreboard watching.

For Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, an avid fan of the game, he's watching hockey almost every night, even when his own team isn't playing. 

Even during Wild games, Boudreau admitted last week that he's taking a peek at scores from around the League.

"I'm checking during the game," Boudreau said. "I can see like you guys can see when the scores flash up. You look at it and then you get back to your game."

Minnesota began a critical three-game, week-long trip to the East Coast on Monday with a win against the New York Islanders. The victory moved the Wild to within one point of both the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, who currently hold third place in the Central Division and the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference, respectively.

Here's a quick look at what some of the Western Conference contenders have left on their schedules, as of Tuesday morning (thanks to FOX Sports North's Anthony Lapanta for compiling most of the data):

Dallas Stars

34-21-4, 72 points

Current position: Third place, Central Division

What's left: Dallas has 23 games remaining on its schedule, 13 of which will come on the road. Of those 23 games, 13 will also come against top-11 teams from the Western Conference.

St. Louis Blues

34-22-4, 72 points

Current position: First wild card, Western Conference

What's left: The Blues have 22 games remaining, with an even split of 11 games both at home and away from Scottrade Center. Twelve of their remaining contests will come against top-11 contenders in the West.

Minnesota Wild

32-20-7, 71 points

Current position: Second wild card, Western Conference

What's left: Like Dallas, the Wild also has 23 games remaining on its docket. And like the Stars, Minnesota will also spend a bulk of its remaining schedule on the road, with 13 of 23 away from Xcel Energy Center, including three-straight weekends in March featuring back-to-back road games out west. Like the Blues, 12 of Minnesota's remaining games come against Western contenders.

Anaheim Ducks

30-20-11, 71 points

Current position: Third place, Pacific Division

What's left: The Ducks currently hold the final automatic playoff berth from the Pacific, but have a tenuous lead. They also has the fewest games remaining of all Western bubble teams (21). It does have a home-heavy schedule, however, with 13 of its remaining 21 at the Honda Center. It also has just 10 games against top-11 teams in the West.

Los Angeles Kings

32-22-5, 69 points

Current position: Ninth place, Western Conference

What's left: The Kings trail the Ducks by two points for third in the Pacific, a spot they would take should they become tied. L.A. has played two fewer games and has four more victories in regulation or overtime, which is the top tiebreaker come season's end. Of the 23 games left on the Kings' schedule, 15 will come at Staples Center (compared to just nine on the road), with 13 games also coming against top-11 Western foes.

Calgary Flames

30-21-9, 69 points

Current position: 10th place, Western Conference

What's left: The Flames and Kings have the same number of points, but because Calgary has played one more game, it sits one spot lower in the standings. The Kings also have two more ROW wins, something to keep an eye on as the season winds down. Of the Flames 22 remaining games, 12 will come on the road with 11 against top-11 opponents from the West.

Colorado Avalanche

31-23-4, 66 points

Current position: 11th place, Western Conference

What's left: A brutal, road-heavy schedule the past month has taken some of the luster off the Avalanche's marvelous bounceback season, but Colorado has kept itself in the mix. It has 24 games left, with an even 12/12 home/road split, and 14 games against the West's top-11, more than any other team on the playoff bubble.


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