Saturday, March 31, 2012
Playoff watch: Kings take Pacific Division lead
By Mark Stepneski
For the fifth time in the last nine days there’s been a change at the top of the Pacific Division. The new leader is the Los Angeles Kings, who won 4-1 at Edmonton last night to pass the Dallas Stars. The Kings are 8-2-0 over their last 10 games.
The Kings play at Minnesota on Saturday night, so they can hold that division lead with a win -- and move one step closer to securing a playoff spot.
The game of the night in the playoff race is Dallas at San Jose. The Stars dropped to seventh after their loss in Vancouver Friday night. They have a one point lead over the Sharks, who currently sit in ninth place. It’s a huge game for both teams. It’s a chance to gain points and take away points from a team you’re battling for a playoff spot. This is the first of a home-and-home series and both teams need the points, so that makes it all that much more intriguing.
The Coyotes, who are in eighth place in the West, host Anaheim Saturday night. The Coyotes are 2-3-0 against Anaheim this season, so it will be another chance for the Ducks to wreak some havoc in the race. A win for the Coyotes and they pick up points on whoever falls in the Stars-Sharks battle.
Colorado beat Calgary Friday night. That kept the Avalanche’s slim hopes alive and basically buried the Flames’ chances. Colorado has 88 points, but doesn’t play for the next five days and has only two games left. If the Avs win their final two games – home tilts against Columbus and Nashville – they’d hit 92 points. They’d have to hope for a lot of losing among those four Pacific Division teams to get in.
Calgary is at 85 points with three games left. They could max out at 91 points and even if they did, it’s not likely it would be enough to get them in.
Nashville beat Detroit Friday to take over fourth place in the West. The Predators now lead Detroit by one point. That’s a key spot since it brings home ice in the first round. And the Canucks are just one point behind St. Louis for first overall in the West. There’s still a lot of stuff to be decided.