Wild Western Conference: Loving the Blues Edition

We’ve put together a quick and simple view of the teams locked in this close Western Conference playoff chase. It’ll be updated on Thursday, to reflect the results of the Monday-Wednesday games, and it’ll be updated on Monday to cover the Thursday-Sunday games.

We previously conceded the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights are in the playoffs. Today, we add the San Jose Sharks to the list of teams who are in. We said the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars aren’t going to make it, leaving five teams fighting for the remaining four playoff spots.

Our table indicates the points each team has and provides a projected season total, based on each team averaging one point per game in each remaining game. When we started this on Mar. 15, eight teams were projected within six points. The five teams left now project within five points of each other.

Western Conference playoff chase standings through Mar. 28, 2018

The five teams remaining didn’t have a particular good few days, compiling a 2-3-1 record. It was the two teams needing to make up ground from our last analysis, the Kings and Blues, which had the best of it and gained ground. With teams all in their final half dozen (or fewer) games remaining, slip ups can mean the difference between a shot for a Stanley Cup and a long offseason.

Notable Events, Mar. 26-28

The Colorado Avalanche played a pair of tough teams, traveling to Pacific Division leading Vegas and hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. The Avs fell to Vegas 4-1. Coming home, they gave up a pair of goals to the Flyers in the opening period. Avs goalie Andrew Hammond was trying to get his first win of the season and he stopped 31 of 33 shots, but it wasn’t enough. The Avs scored just once, and lost 2-1, their second straight regulation loss.

The Kings hosted the fading Calgary Flames, a classic trap game. The Kings took care of business, shutting out the Flames, 3-0, getting all three tallies on the power play. However, they may have lost defenseman Jake Muzzin for the rest of the regular season after he suffered an upper body injury in the second period. Just more minutes for Drew Doughty, who is averaging almost 27 minutes a game, albeit this is his lowest total since the 2013-14 season. Of course, he’s still second in the league in this category, a shade behind Ryan Suter of Minnesota.

Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty  (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Ducks went to Vancouver to face the last-place Canucks, a classic trap game. And the Ducks were trapped, losing 4-1. The Ducks had a meager 16 regulation shots on goal in each of their prior two games. Against the Canucks, they managed 24, still not a lot. The Ducks need to be more dangerous, goalie John Gibson has been saving them too often. The next two games Anaheim plays are four point games in this playoff chase.

After hosting and beating Nashville on Saturday, the Wild went to Nashville and played a tight game, eventually settled in Nashville’s favor via the shootout. Eric Staal reached the 40 goal mark in the game.

Eric Staal
Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild, November 11, 2017. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Blues hosted the Sharks on Tuesday and snapped San Jose’s eight game win streak, the league’s longest at the time. The Sharks, on the second game of back-to-backs simply ran out of steam, but goalie Aaron Dell helped steal a point. In their prior game, the Blues snapped the Columbus winning streak at ten games, the longest in the league this season. Who holds the league’s longest win streak now? Why, its the Blues, winners of six straight.

Four-Point Games

There are several games where the five teams will go head-to-head, with a potential four-point swing. Credit to the schedule makers, the frequency of these games ramps up in the final ten days of the season. We’ll let you know what happened the previous few days and what to look for in the days ahead.

  Monday-Wednesday Results

Monday: –

Tuesday: – Blues 3, Sharks 2 (OT)

Wednesday: –

 Thursday-Sunday Upcoming Games

Thursday: –

Friday: Los Angeles v Anaheim

Saturday: –

Sunday: – Colorado v Anaheim