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Inside the Western Conference Standings – November 25

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Every now and then, we’ll take a look at each conference’s standings to see if there are any trends or quirks that explain why some teams are failing and others are overachieving. Obviously, these results will reveal bigger truths once we advance later into this season … but it’s still fun and interesting to take a peek at bigger picture numbers.

Click here for the Eastern Conference version from earlier this afternoon.

Click here for last month’s Western Conference standings post.

Let’s take a look at some of the trends – both good and bad – in the tough as nails West.

The Coyotes and Blue Jackets are the hottest teams in the West, but the Red Wings aren’t far behind

Phoenix owns the longest winning streak in the NHL (seven games), but Columbus has a strong winning streak (five) and are the best over the last 10 games (8-2-0). The Red Wings aren’t far behind, though, with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10.

Detroit might face a bumpy road

That being said, don’t be surprised if the Red Wings struggle a bit here and there. They played 12 (9-1-2) of their 19 games at Joe Louis Arena so far, so they’ll have to play five more games away from home the rest of this season.

Reason for hope

Both the Oilers and Predators faced tough starts to the season, with eight games at home and 12 on the road. They also will get more “at bats,” having played in only 20 games.

Reason to relax

The Kings have been a bit flat lately (5-5-0 in their last 10), but they have played nine games at home and 12 on the road. Considering the fact that Los Angeles is 8-1-0 at home, those three games could be the difference they need in the tough Pacific.

Reason for concern

San Jose and Minnesota are on the flip side of Nashville and Edmonton; each team played 12 games at home and only eight on the road so far. At least that means they’ve only played in 20, but they’re both hit-or-miss even with an advantageous situation.

Acceptably not very good at losing

The Panthers and Blue Jackets are the only two teams in the NHL without an overtime or shootout loss, but you cannot complain about Columbus. That’s because they’ve won five more games than Florida.

The Oilers might be worse than the Islanders

Edmonton has more points (14 to 13), more wins (five to four) and played in one less game than the Long Island squad. That being said, the Oilers have been losing a little worse; they’ve been outscored by 33 goals as opposed to the Islanders’ -28.

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So, there you go. We’ll see how things shake out over the next month in both conferences. Now eat some more turkey.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay