Tag: Western Conference standings analysis

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings

West update: Sharks are tonight’s only empty-handed team


Tuesday’s six big Western Conference showdowns gave every contender a reason to keep their heads high to at least some extent – except the San Jose Sharks, whose shoulders must slump low.

The Sharks have now lost back-to-back games in regulation to start the week, as the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings flagrantly outplayed them. Tuesday’s game versus Los Angeles ended with a 5-2 win for the Kings that included a Jeff Carter empty-netter that really just made the score seem more fitting.

(San Jose allowed 40+ shots in both contests.)

Stars stand alone

The Dallas Stars stand above everyone else thanks to a big overtime win in an absolutely enthralling game against the Phoenix Coyotes, but that’s far the only important story of the night.

Smoking Semyon

Considering the fact that he’s gone 10-2-0 in his last 12 games, it might be fair to call Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov “Ilya Bryzgalov West.” Varly stopped all but one shot as the Avs squeezed out a 2-1 OT win against the Calgary Flames in a matchup of two playoff-desperate teams. (Interesting side note: Matt Stajan has been Calgary’s lone goal scorer in two straight games, which allowed them to salvage efforts with a charity point in each.)

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West outlook

Now that you’re updated on the nightly results, here is how the race for the final few spots looks:

3) Dallas: 84 points, 33 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

7) Colorado: 85 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
8) Los Angeles: 84 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

9) Phoenix: 84 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
10) San Jose: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and nine games left
11) Calgary: 82 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and eight games left

Yup, that’s obviously as close as it gets. Perhaps the one bit of good news for the Sharks is that they’re not totally out of it yet – honest. Still, this is a huge turnaround, with perhaps the Kings grinning the widest.

  • The Coyotes might lose Shane Doan for a few games.
  • It’s possible that the Stars might lose their big star Jamie Benn if a rough contest against Phoenix did injure him.
  • They have a games remaining edge on the Colorado Avalanche and other edges on the Flames.

Either way, there’s no glossing over tonight’s big losers: the Sharks. In fact, Sports Club Stats places their playoff chances in 10th place at 37.7 percent – down a whopping 18.2 percent tonight – while Los Angeles is at seventh with 70.6 percent odds (up 10.1 percent).

Addendum: even if you say “Hey, the Nashville Predators lost to the Edmonton Oilers tonight,” the response is simple. If getting Alexander Radulov back isn’t a big win, then what is?

Predators push Chicago’s skid to nine games

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

Not every Central Division team celebrated the extension of a streak tonight.

While the Detroit Red Wings’ home winning run grew to 21 games, the Nashville Predators gave the Chicago Blackhawks their ninth loss in a row by edging them 3-2.

Rather than eye-balling the divisional standings, the Blackhawks’ focus is simply to make the playoffs now.

Their 29 wins act as a tie-breaker, but the Blackhawks are essentially tied with the Los Angeles Kings for sixth place with 65 points in 57 games played. That puts them in danger of being usurped by the eighth place Phoenix Coyotes as well as any number of bubble teams during the stretch run.

For most of the 2011-12 season, it seemed like Chicago was beyond the late-season nail-biting finish from last year, but that’s far from a guarantee now.

Ultimately, there really are only three obvious silver linings:

1. They’re still in the West’s top eight.
2. Detroit’s run buries their struggles in the headlines, at least nationally.
3. The St. Louis Blues lost to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hey, when you’re free-falling like the Blackhawks, sometimes you have to look a little harder for positives.

Inside the Western Conference Standings – December 26

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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 November edition and click here for the October version.

For this month’s Eastern Conference inside the standings post, click here.

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

Detroit primed for a slight fall?

The Red Wings are struggling (for them, at least) with a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 and must deal with a month of Datsyuk-free hockey (maybe more). Another bit of bad news: they’ve played six more games at Joe Louis Arena than on the road, so they’ll have to bring their squadron of veterans away from Detroit quite a bit going forward.

I doubt that the Red Wings are in significant trouble, but they might struggle to keep the top seed in the West.

Chicago faces a grind.

After playing quite a few more games than anyone else to begin the season, the rest of the league is catching up to Chicago in games played. The good news is that the struggling defending champs still are in the playoff picture, but it won’t be easy. They will face four more road contests than games at home, but they’ve been OK (8-5-3) away so far.

Los Angeles still has a shot at the Pacific title.

With two less games played and three more home games left than road contests, the Kings aren’t out of the Pacific Division title race just yet. They might need to “learn how to lose” more effectively, though, as their one overtime/shootout loss is the lowest in the West. (Only the Florida Panthers are “worse” at losing, with a big zero in the “otl” category.)

There is hope for Phoenix and Calgary.

While the Coyotes have more reasons for optimism than the Flames since they’ve played in less games (33 to 36) and own more standings points (37 to 33), both teams have more home games in the future. Phoenix will play five more games at home while Calgary will play four more once the season is over.

But not much hope for Columbus.

Conversely, the collapsing Columbus Blue Jackets played 19 out of their first 34 games at home, so they’ll need to play five more road games than home games going forward. On the bright side, they’ve actually been a better away team (8-5-2) than home team (9-9-1) so far this season.

The Ducks have been busy, but inefficient.

While Anaheim’s 40 standings points places them in a virtual tie for eighth place, they’ve played the most games in the NHL with 38 so far this year. St. Louis only needs one win in four games to pass them, while Nashville – the team they’re tied with – got to the 40 mark in four less tries.

In other words, the Ducks’ seem like they’re in better shape than they actually are at this point.


After looking over the standings, I feel like the Canucks might have the safest divisional lead in the NHL. The Red Wings should be able to hold onto the Central crown as well, though, unless a heavy amount of road games causes their aging squad to break down.

The Pacific is the division that’s really up for grabs. The Sharks are nipping at the Stars’ heels while the Kings and Coyotes have more home games than road games remaining (and games in hand). Even the Ducks could pose a threat based on their streaky talents, though they are a long shot for the reasons discussed in this post.

While nearly every team has a shot at the playoffs, I think the Blues and Coyotes are two teams outside the top eight who pose the biggest threats to the squads who would make the playoffs if they began today.

While the East seems to be a conference of have and have-nots, no one seems particularly safe in the West. Not even the mighty Red Wings (to some extent, at least).