The Big Picture of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks  players celebrating

Doug Upstone

Sunday, March 19, 2017 5:29 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 19, 2017 5:29 PM GMT

In winning 8 of 10, Chicago has moved to the top of the Central Division standings, has the best record in the Western Conference and is within a few points of Washington for best overall record.

In other words, the Blackhawks are playing again like they are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

In looking at the rest of the standings, Minnesota's recent slump have knocked them out of first place and while the Wild would prefer to finish in first place in the division, they and Pacific Division-leading San Jose have seats at the playoff table.

After that, it becomes a little messy, especially in the Pacific. In order behind the Sharks are Anaheim, Edmonton, and Calgary, all within two points of one another. The Ducks can make or break their position, facing the Oilers and Flames still twice, while Calgary would seem to be in the best position against the NHL odds taking on lowly Vancouver and Colorado a total of five times.

Nashville and St. Louis are battling it out for the third place in the Central and the loser will end up as the wild card and the Predators will face the Blues one last time in St. Louis.

When looking at this playoff picture and looking to make NHL picks, the only other team even in the discussion is Los Angeles, who trails the Blues by four points and given no indication they will catch fire. Maybe the Kings will, but essentially we have six teams scrambling for five slots on the West.

 

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