It’s hard to believe that with just a little over two weeks left in the season, mathematically, there are still 14 of 15 teams in the West that can qualify for the playoffs (sorry, Columbus). With that being said, Edmonton doesn’t really have a prayer, neither does Minnesota. Anaheim, currently nine points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, is a long shot, but they would need a miracle contingent on several various factors going their way in order to still be playing hockey in April.
Essentially, that leaves five teams—all currently separated by three points—battling for two playoff spots. And at this point, nobody is willing to give an inch.
The Pacific Division holds the true logjam. The Dallas Stars lead the division with 85 points, giving them the No. 3 seed in the conference. But that number is deceiving when you consider the Stars are just two points away from falling out of the top eight altogether. The Los Angeles Kings (currently in eighth) and Phoenix Coyotes (currently in ninth) both trail the Stars by a single point. The once-vaunted San Jose Sharks, who sat atop the Pacific for the majority of the season, are now in 10th, trailing the Sharks and Kings by two points.
Up in the Northwest Division, the Colorado Avalanche, thanks to their surge in the month of March, are holding down the seventh spot with 85 points, while the Calgary Flames are at the bottom of the logjam in 11th place with 82 points.
Without going into strength of schedule and estimations for the amount of points needed to qualify, the two teams that have the best shot at capturing those final two spots going forward have to be the Kings and the Avs. Not only is L.A. the hottest team of the group, currently riding a five-game winning streak, but they have two games in hand on Colorado and one game in hand on the Coyotes and Flames. And while Colorado doesn’t have any games on hand, they are riding high after an important three-game road trip that saw them capture five out of a possible six points.
In reality, no one knows how the West will turn out, but it definitely will be an exciting ride to the finish line.