Handicapping the Pacific playoff race

Updated: March 27, 2012, 1:44 PM ET
By Craig Custance

The good news is that they're resting. The Phoenix Coyotes played an intense, playoff-like game in San Jose on Saturday night, arriving back in Phoenix early Sunday morning. At 6 p.m. on Sunday, they played the NHL's best team, and their weariness showed in a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

They don't play again until Thursday and should be recharged for an absolutely crucial home game against the Sharks. That's the good thing.

The bad? It's excruciating to wait to play again. The Pacific Division has evolved into one of the wildest playoff races in years. One morning you wake up and the Stars or Kings are positioning themselves to win the division. Tuesday? It's the Sharks' turn, back in first place, thanks to an impressive 5-1 win over the Avalanche Monday night. One loss and suddenly Dallas is perilously close to 10th place.

No wonder the waiting is painful for Phoenix.