NHL Western Conference Playoff Push: The Final 13 Games

Michael WagenknechtContributor IMarch 16, 2011

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 15:  Center Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on March 15, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As we move in to the final 13 games of the regular season, the Western Conference is still wide open with eight teams realistically fighting for five spots.

The top of the conference is pretty well-set with Vancouver leading with 101 points and seemingly being unable to be caught. Detroit, 90 points, and San Jose, 88 points, are holding down home-ice advantage for the time being.

Spots four through eight are where the fun begins. Los Angeles and Phoenix are tied with 85 points, and, since they are in the same division as the Sharks, still have the opportunity to snag the second or third seed and home ice.

Chicago is in sixth with 84 points, Dallas is seventh with 82 and Calgary is eigth with 81 points. Nashville, Anahiem and Minnesota sit on the outside looking in at the moment, but one game can change everything right now.

Over the next week, many important games will be played to help determine the playoff teams. Most of these games will be between the teams who are sitting in spots four through 10.

On Wednesday night, the Anahiem Ducks will face the St. Louis Blues, and Detroit will host Washington as they try to hang on to the second spot.

Thursday brings a plethora of games that could seperate a lot of these teams. Detroit is in Columbus, Nashville hosts Boston, Chicago is in Dallas, Phoenix is in Edmonton, Calgary hosts Colorado, San Jose hosts Minnesota and the LA Kings host St. Louis.

After Thursday night, the picture will either be much clearer or even more confusing then ever.  The playoffs have been going on in the West since the 1st of the year, and it will go down to the last game of this season once again.

We will revisit the standings on Friday and see where the West will be won.