If the playoff picture in the Eastern conference was clear as mud, the Western conference is a tar pit.  Three teams have clinched spots by winning their respective divisions (Vancouver, San Jose, & Detroit) and hold the top 3 positions.  Vancouver has wrapped up the #1 spot and the best record in the NHL (wining the President’s trophy).  San Jose and Detroit are in a tight battle for the #2 spot with only a point separating them.  Both teams have difficult schedules through the end of the season but I think the Sharks have a tougher run … edge to Detroit.  Now for the mess that is #4 thru #8.  I have Nashville taking 4 more points to finish the season but not so fast my friend!  Phoenix has a game in hand with 3 very winnable games.  I say they win out as well and leap frog over the Preds into the #4 spot.  LA has a pretty good grip on the #6 slot even with 2 more loses coming.  There are just too many points for the teams under them to make up.  Can the Stanley Cup champs from last year, Chicago, hang on to the last spot?  Not with the schedule they have they won’t.  The Blackhawks have a home game with St. Louis and then a home and home with Detroit to end the season.  Dallas has a cake walk to the end with Colorado twice and the Wild.  They will win all three and bolt up to the 7 spot.  Anaheim will do just enough to get in and with tiebreakers over Chicago; they will round out the playoff spots in the West.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Vancouver – 117
  2. Detroit – 106
  3. San Jose – 105
  4. Phoenix – 102
  5. Nashville – 101
  6. Los Angeles – 98
  7. Dallas – 96
  8. Anaheim – 95
  9. Chicago – 95
  10. Calgary – 93

So, Chicago doesn’t make the playoffs a year after winning it all!  Calgary has been struggling down the stretch and just can’t make up ground.

Stay tuned, I’ll be reviewing all the matchups before the playoffs start next week!