This concludes our two part series looking at the playoff picture. Part I featured the Eastern Conference and Part II will look at the Western Conference.
View the Eastern Conference playoff race here.
At a glance, spots 4-11 are likely to switch, but the real battles are going to be between the 7-11 seeds.
-Vancouver, Detroit, and San Jose are all but a lock for playoffs. Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Chicago look to have their spot in the playoffs but that could easily change.
-Vancouver is leaps and bounds better than everyone in their division and have basically locked up the #1 seed.
-Detroit has most likely won the Central but Chicago has been on a hot streak of late.
-The Pacific is a tight race between the Sharks, Kings, Coyotes, and Stars. As of now all 4 teams are in the playoff picture and Anaheim isn't too far off. To see every team in the Pacific make playoffs would be unreal.
-If the playoffs started today Dallas and Calgary would be in leaving Nashville, Anaheim, and Minnesota out.
-Currently 7th overall in the West (82 points).
-Key Player: Brad Richards. After holding on the Richards at the trade deadline, Dallas is going to need him to come up big.
-Currently 8th overall in the West (81 points).
-Key Player: Miikka Kiprusoff. He's gotta step it up if Calgary wants to hold on to the 8 spot.
-Currently 9th overall in the West (80 points).
-Key Player(s): Sergei Kostitsyn/Patrick Hornqvist/Colin Wilson. The Predators have the most balanced scoring in the league (8 players between 10 and 18 goals) but they're not going to make playoffs with defenseman Shea Weber leading the team in points (43). They absolutely need their young guns to come alive. Players like Patrick Hornqvist, Colin Wilson, and Sergei Kostitsyn need to step it up. Especially Kostitsyn who is third on the team in points with 35 but only has 1 point in his last 10 games. He is the key to their success.
-Currently 10th overall in the West (79 points).
-Key Player: Jonas Hiller. The Ducks need their all-star goalie back if they want to make playoffs. When interviewed today, Hiller expressed optimism that he would indeed be back soon.
-Currently 11th overall in the West (77 points).
-Key Player: Nicklas Backstrom/Mikku Koivu. The Wild are going to need some serious wins if they want to make playoffs. Backstrom has had a very sold year for the while but he has hit a slump of late. He is going to have to turn that around if they want to make playoffs. Also the Wild have received a boost now that Mikku Koivu has returned from injury. He is their most consistent point scorer and he will need to keep it up.
PREDICTION FOR THE WEST:
7TH: The Dallas Stars
8TH: The Anaheim Ducks
9TH: The Nashville Predators
10TH: The Calgary Flames
11TH: The Minnesota Wild
-Anaheim will take the 8th spot over Calgary because they are only 2 points behind them and they have played 3 less games. Also they have veteren leadership from players like Lubomir Visnovski, Ryan Getzlaf, and Teemu Selanne.
-The Predators will barely miss playoffs. They are still very young and don't have a big impact player.
-The Wild have just fallen too far behind to catch up.