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Tonight on NBCSN: A Pacific Division battle royal featuring Coyotes-Stars and Sharks-Kings

Mar 20, 2012, 8:00 AM EST

Dallas Stars v Phoenix Coyotes Getty Images

If you’re not infected with playoff fever yet, perhaps tonight’s doubleheader will do the trick. Four teams from the Pacific Division all battling for the lead there while also duking it out for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Saddle up and get ready for a wild finish.

Dallas Stars vs. Phoenix Coyotes (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

These two teams are tied atop the Pacific with 83 points and the winner gets to steer clear of the pack for at least a night. The Stars got back into the thick of things thanks to a run that saw them win 10 of 11 games. Since then they’ve dropped their last two games putting them straight into the quagmire with everyone else. Led by Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder, and Jamie Benn the Stars have the scoring talent up front to make you pay. What keys them to victory, however, is how well Kari Lehtonen is playing in goal. If ever there’s a slightly off night, the Stars’ climb uphill gets a bit steeper.

The Coyotes are in much the same spot as how Mike Smith goes in goal, so go the Coyotes. Lately, things have been alternating between hot and cold as the Coyotes have alternated wins and losses in their last five games. With that kind of run coming off a five-game losing streak, frustration is there. While the Coyotes offense goes through the motions at times, the guy they’ve been banking on lately is Ray Whitney. “The Wizard” has a four-game points streak with a goal and five helpers in that span. They might have it tough tonight, however, as Radim Vrbata is questionable to play.

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

source: APThese two sit tied for third in the Pacific just one point behind both the Stars and Coyotes. While they won’t be able to catch up for the divisional lead tonight, they can help make their case stronger for either the seventh or eighth spot in the West.

For the Sharks, they’re coming off an ugly loss to the Ducks last night that saw them get dumped 5-3 and unable to beat backup goalie Jeff Deslauriers. After seeing Antti Niemi get chased in favor of Thomas Greiss last night, confidence cannot be high. At the very least the Sharks have Joe Pavelski and Martin Havlat playing well recently. They could stand to see Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau do a lot more. It’s stunning to see the Sharks even in a position where they have to fight for the playoffs. So much for being Stanley Cup hopefuls.

The Kings, on the other hand, are in the midst of an era of good feelings. Since acquiring Jeff Carter, the Kings offense has picked up dramatically averaging over three goals a game. That might not sound huge to you, but considering they were barely averaging over two a game before he arrived, it’s an immense improvement. The Kings’ record since Carter’s arrival? 8-3-0.

Keying their resurgence are two Kings fixtures in Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Brown has points in 10 of his last 11 games and Kopitar has points in nine of his last 10 including six goals and five assists. It’s taken almost the entire season, but with how the Kings are playing now this is the team we expected to see all year long. That’s bad news for the Sharks and everyone else in the playoff hunt out West.

  1. cup0pizza - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Go Stars!

  2. oside760 - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    GO KINGS!!!

  3. oside760 - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    who the hell would wanna live in dallas or phoenix or san jose???

    • mattryannolan - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Everyone who doesn’t waste to waste away in that crap hole town of LA.

      • oside760 - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        hahahaha ok man. just go back to your life in your trailer home with your fat wife in the middle of hickville(dallas)

      • mattryannolan - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Well I live in an apartment in downtown and don’t have a fat wife but ok?

      • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:29 PM

        listen pal … as a former resident of Torrance CA, I’d suggest that you take it easy with “anti” LA stuff … we Kings fans don’t look for trouble … and we sure as hell don’t run from it either !

  4. blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    The Kings’ record since Carter’s arrival ? … 8-3-0 !

    “We have no further questions your honor” … :)

  5. dallasstars9 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    The Stars’ record since Carter’s arrival …..8-2-1

    So I have one question – What’s your point?! GO STARS!!!

    • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      Judge: would counsel for the LA Kings please approach the bench

      Blomfeld: certainly your honor …

      Judge: hey man, that dallasstars9 guy really rubs me the wrong way !

      Blomfeld: I concur with your sentiments your honor …

      Judge: so you know what, let’s throw the book at that bastard, eh ?

      Blomfeld: again your honor, I completely concur with your sentiments …

      Judge: alright man … let’s do it … check this out …

      Dallasstars9: what’s going on ? … like what are you talking about ?

      Judge: the court finds Dallasstars completely guilty of idiocy ! … if you please guards …

      Dallasstars9: like what’s going on here ? … and like what am I guilty of ?

      Guards: shut up you idiot ! .. KAPOW ! .. KABOOM ! .. KAZAM !

      • dallasstars9 - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        If nothing else, thanks for a good laugh.

  6. barroomhero80 - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    mattryannolan – Mar 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM
    Everyone who doesn’t waste to waste away in that crap hole town of LA.

    as oppsed to even worse sh** holes….chump…eat it haters! GO KINGS GO!

    • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:36 PM

      barroomhero80 & oside760 …

      hey man, how’s it going ? … it’s really nice to see some fellow LA Kings fans here on the board at PGT, as I often wonder if I’m the only one left who still has the faith ? … as you know I do my best, but it sure does get lonely at times … anyway, it’s great to see you here :) … take it easy you guys … and GO KINGS GO !

      • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:39 PM

        sorry man … I meant to say PHT above, not PGT … I’ve got that bloody Tiger Woods and Bay Hill on my mind here … :)

      • barroomhero80 - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM

        GKG buddy!!! yea

  7. aventador12 - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    L.A. Kings = Sucking and Choking since 1967.

    • blomfeld - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      hey man, are you nuts ? .. I mean seriously, what the hell are you trying to say ?

  8. aventador12 - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    All in good sport. No disrespect. Just competition.

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