Monday, November 23, 2009

Western Conference playoff race, 22 November edition

Sorry this is late.  Blame Ohio University and whomever decided to put the end of the fall quarter immediately following Thanksgiving.  Someone should be fired for that scheduling blunder.

But back to bread and circuses...

So what's the bigger story in the West this week - that Colorado is (as many expected) coming back to the pack?  That the San Jose steamroller continues on, stretching its lead?  Perhaps that Chicago has gone on a ridiculous tear since the return on Johnathan Toews?  That Columbus quietly jumped into the top tier of teams in the entire NHL for points accumulated in the month of November (just behind San Jose)?  That Calgary, my early season pick (with San Jose) to be in the conference final, is playing like garbage?  Lots happening, and it's happening in the wild, wild Western Conference.  

The magic playoff-qualifying bar rose another 4 points this week, from 22 to 26.  There are NINE teams clustered around that 26 point number, anywhere from 25-29.  Only two teams - San Jose and Chicago - are outside of the pack (on the positive side).  Read me now, believe me later - it's going to be a dogfight to the end.  If you're not tops in a division, there's a very real chance that you could choke away a playoff berth.  

BIG POINT WINNERS OF THE WEEK: Chicago (no surprise) and Nashville (WHAT?), each with 6 points.  Don't look now, but the Preds are knocking on the door of playoff qualification.  They've shaken off their very slow start and are kicking serious butt under Barry "I don't look like Dark Blue Onesie any more" Trotz.  

BIG POINT LOSERS OF THE WEEK: Half of the Western Conference!  Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Vancouver all racked up a very unimpressive 2 points each.  Looks to me like we're starting to see a separation between the playoff "haves" and "have nots".  1 week is an indicator, 2 weeks is an inkling, 3 weeks is a trend.  Let's keep an eye on this, eh?

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