Playoff watch: Kings with chance to pad lead tonight

There’s only one game in the Western Conference playoff race tonight, and that has the Los Angeles Kings hosting the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a big chance for the Kings to put some heat on the teams chasing them in the race. A win and they go two points up on Phoenix, three on San Jose and four on Dallas. That would put them in a pretty good spot. Get one point or none, then they have to watch Tuesday and see where they stand heading into the final two games of the season.

It’s easy to look at this game on paper and say it’s a win for the Kings, but look around the league and you’ll see games aren’t always playing out the way you’d think.

For example, the Minnesota Wild notched shootout victories over both the Kings and Blackhawks over the weekend. The Wild aren’t going through the motions here at the end of the season. Neither are a lot of other teams. The Wild are worth noting because they host Phoenix the final day of the season.

That’s why a lot of can and will happen over this final week and it may not play out the way it looks like it should on paper. Games will be settled and points will be gained and lost on the ice.

Of note yesterday, Detroit beat Florida in a shootout to move into that fourth spot in the West. They are one point up on Nashville and Chicago, which picked up a point in that shootout loss to the Wild.

Battle for the Pacific

A look at the race for the Pacific Division title and the Western Conference playoffs.

Western Conference Playoff Race

The Western Conference playoff race. ROW = Regulation/Overtime wins. DIFF = goal differential.

x = clinched playoff spot. y = clinched division.