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NHL Playoff Picture 2012: Stars In A Wild Western Conference Race

The Dallas Stars have four games remaining on their regular season schedule, and could very well need to win all of them to stay alive in the Western Conference's wild, wild playoff race.

Western Standings

St. Louis Blues 78 48-20-10 106
Vancouver Canucks 78 48-21-9 105
Los Angeles Kings 78 39-27-12 90
Nashville Predators 78 45-25-8 98
Detroit Red Wings 78 46-27-5 97
Chicago Blackhawks 78 43-26-9 95
Dallas Stars 78 42-31-5 89
Phoenix Coyotes 78 38-27-13 89
San Jose Sharks 78 39-29-10 88
Colorado Avalanche 80 41-33-6 88
Calgary Flames 79 35-29-15 85
Anaheim Ducks 77 33-33-11 77
Minnesota Wild 77 32-35-10 74
Edmonton Oilers 78 31-38-9 71
Columbus Blue Jackets 78 26-45-7 59

Dallas dropped from the Pacific Division leader's automatic top-seed last night with a loss at Vancouver, bumping them from the No. 3 seed to the No. 7 with just one loss. The Stars (89 points) are one behind L.A. (90 points) for the Pacific lead , tied with No. 8 seed Phoenix (89 points), and just barely ahead of ninth place San Jose (88 points). Colorado (88 points) and Calgary (85 points) are still within striking distance as well.

That makes a total of six teams vying for spots 3, 7 and 8 in the Western Conference. The Pacific Division winner will likely play the Blackhawks in the opening round. Here's a look at Saturday's action for Stars fans:

  • Los Angeles plays at Minnesota Saturday night. Obviously a Kings' loss would be huge for the Stars, who with a win over San Jose, could retake the Pacific and the No. 3 seed.
  • Phoenix hosts Anaheim, who is out of the race but still hot of late. A Ducks win would give the Stars space between the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds if they can't win the Pacific.
  • Calgary, the team with the slimmest shot of making the playoffs, goes to Vancouver, who beat Dallas Friday and who are chasing St. Louis for the No. 1 overall seed. The Canucks and Blues will go 1-2, meaning they'll likely play two Pacific teams in the first round.

For more on the Dallas Stars, check out Defending Big D and SB Nation's NHL page.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.