A mere week separates today from the conclusion of the 2011-2012 NHL regular season, and the race for the playoffs is as fierce as ever.
Three Western Conference playoffs seeds remain on the line, including home-ice advantage and a No. 3 seed for the currently indeterminable Pacific Division champion, but the quest to grab those final spots will not be easy.
As March winds down and April looms large in the calendar, victories have become plentiful for many bubble teams. Moving up the standings, however, is now a much harder task.
For the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes, postseason berths have been commonplace over past years.
But this season has made that goal more difficult to accomplish than ever before. A cornucopia of hungry dark horses—from Dallas to Calgary to Colorado—continues to lurk in the shadows, and with only four points differentiating between these six squads, the remaining playoff seeds are certainly still open for the taking.
Who will hold each of them when April 7th comes and goes?
We present our daring predictions for the NHL's final judgement in the coming slides.