Mar 13, 2012, 1:52 AM EDT
Earlier today, a weathered looking Brian Burke bemoaned three-point games – especially in context of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff situation. Burke and other charity point haters would look at the three Western Conference matchups with tired eyes tonight.
Let’s go in order of each team’s position as of this moment. At the end, we’ll take a look at the overall picture.
Starting off, the fifth-seeded Nashville Predators outlasted the seventh seed Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 via a shootout. Martin Erat scored a goal and two assists while Pekka Rinne came up big in the skills competition:
Finally, while it wasn’t exactly a resounding triumph, the ninth-ranked San Jose Sharks topped the playoff-irrelevant Edmonton Oilers 3-2. They deserve a little credit for winning in regulation (which honestly could make a difference come tie-breaker time. Enjoy the highlights below.
The Predators are fat and happy in fifth place with 89 points and the Chicago Blackhawks are fairly safe in sixth with 82. With that in mind, here’s a quick update of the West bubble:
7. Phoenix – 79 points with 12 games remaining (34 wins, 29 in regulation/OT)
8. Colorado – 78 points with 11 GR (37 wins, 29 in reg/OT)
9. San Jose – 77 points with 14 GR (34 wins, 28 reg/OT)
10. Calgary – 76 points with 13 GR (32 wins, 29 reg/OT)
11. Los Angeles – 76 points with 13 GR (32 wins, 27 reg/OT)
12. Anaheim – 69 points with 12 GR (29 wins, 26 reg/OT)
13. Minnesota – 68 points with 13 GR (29 wins, 22 reg/OT)
I’d say that the Ducks and Wild are just about eliminated, but the three teams outside the West’s top eight aren’t very far behind – especially when you consider their games in hand.
Sports Club Stats’ projections place the Sharks in seventh (67 percent chance to make the playoffs) and the Coyotes in eighth (62.4 percent) while Colorado only has a 21.2 percent chance despite currently holding the eighth seed. The Flames are listed at ninth (38.2 percent) while the Kings are in 10th at (33.2) ahead of the Avalanche.
For Ducks fans holding out hope, you have a Dumb & Dumber-esque .1 percent shot.
Granted, that’s not the only way to predict the postseason future, but it looks like it will be an interesting race – and perhaps the negativity regarding the Sharks might be a little exaggerated.
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