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Race of the Playoffs: Huge games for Flames, Blackhawks

Apr 1, 2011, 4:24 PM EDT

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Calgary Flames v St. Louis Blues Getty Images

Western Conference playoff race

p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (4 GR)
x- 2. San Jose – 99 pts (5 GR)
3. Detroit – 98 pts (5 GR)
4. Phoenix – 95 pts (4 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 94 pts (5 GR)
6. Nashville – 94 pts (4 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (5 GR)
8. Chicago – 90 pts (6 GR)
9. Dallas – 87 pts (6 GR)
10. Calgary – 87 pts (4 GR)

p – clinched conference title and Presidents’ Trophy
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – Games Remaining

Chicago @ Columbus – 7:00 pm ET

The Dallas Stars lost in a humiliating fashion night, so the Blackhawks have a decent three-point cushion and some tiebreaker advantages that might make it more like a four-point lead. That being said, the Stars have a much easier closing schedule overall, so Chicago needs to soak up easy points while they can get them. In other words, there’s no excuse for them to lose to the fading Blue Jackets tonight.

Calgary @ St. Louis – 8:00 pm ET

Chicago’s biggest concern is the Stars, but the Flames still have an outside chance of stealing the eighth spot in the West too. They trail the Hawks by three points and only have four games remaining, so their odds aren’t great.

Still, beating up on teams like the Blues could keep them relevant. Calgary’s coming off a frustrating loss to the Anaheim Ducks while St. Louis absolutely destroyed Detroit 10-3 on Wednesday.

With tiebreaker disadvantages to both the Stars and Blackhawks, the Flames need to win all of their remaining contests and hope for the best.

Colorado @ Phoenix – 10 pm ET

The Coyotes aren’t in a great spot from a games remaining standpoint, so they need to win every game they can and hope for the best regarding seeding. Taking advantage of an opportunity to earn (what would seem like) easy points against the Avalanche would be essential if the Yotes want a decent draw in this year’s playoffs.

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