Apr 11, 2014, 1:03 AM EST
All of a sudden, the Colorado Avalanche don’t need to settle for being a feel-good story and solid playoff team. With other teams either slipping or staying in neutral, the Avs could very well win their division and even the top spot in the Western Conference.
The door went from slightly ajar to quite a bit more open on Thursday, as Colorado jumped over St. Louis for the lead in the Central Division. Both the Avalanche and Blues finished Thursday with identical records (52-21-7, 111 points, two games left), but the Avalanche have a significant advantage in regulation/overtime wins (47-43). Here is an updated look at the standings:
Here are some highlights of the Blues’ tough loss, their fourth in a row (easily their worst streak of the season):
Take a quick look at closing schedules for Colorado and St. Louis:
Colorado: Friday – at San Jose, Sunday – at Anaheim
St. Louis: Friday – at Dallas, Sunday – vs. Detroit
Chicago is too far behind from a tiebreaker standpoint to catch the Avalanche or Blues, so the Central Division race is straightforward. Out in the Pacific, the Anaheim Ducks are clearly at the top while the San Jose Sharks will host the Los Angeles Kings.
Ultimately, the two races to watch out West are the Avalanche vs. the Blues and the Dallas Stars vs. the Phoenix Coyotes.
For the sake of comprehensiveness, here’s a look at the East standings, too:
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks 0
- NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Canadiens seek edge as divisional battles intensify 0
- Struggling Kings complete the comeback against Blackhawks 6
- Video: Tempers boil over between Capitals, Penguins 38
- Isles’ Clutterbuck latest to be fined for diving 19
- No hearing scheduled for Kesler after ‘dirty play’ on Dorsett 23
- Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar 32
- Trade: Pens acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc 63
- Video: Habs’ Emelin ejected for hit on Stars’ Spezza 31
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 45