Canucks Take Northwest Lead

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The Stanley Cup won't be handed out until June, but this is the time when we see teams making runs at the playoffs. And you can't win the Cup if you don't make the playoffs. Race for the Cup is your daily check of where your favorite team stands as the season dwindles.

At one point, the Vancouver Canucks had lost nine straight home games, Mats Sundin was an overpaid flop, and the team was going to have trouble making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames had won the Northwest Division before the deadline deals that brought them Jordan Leopold and Olli Jokinen. It's obvious now that we spoke way too soon, as the division has a new leader, and there appears to be no doubt Vancouver will be a dangerous team in the playoffs.

In the East
Eastern Conference, 3/31
1. y-Boston Bruins
106 pts
2. x-Washington Capitals
99
3. x-New Jersey Devils
98
4. Philadelphia Flyers 92
5. Carolina Hurricanes
91
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
90
7. New York Rangers
89
8. Montreal Canadiens
86
9. Florida Panthers
85
10. Buffalo Sabres
82
Eastern Conference, 3/31 1.y-Boston Bruins
106 pts2.x-Washington Capitals
993.x-New Jersey Devils
984.Philadelphia Flyers925.Carolina Hurricanes
916.Pittsburgh Penguins
907.New York Rangers
898.Montreal Canadiens
869.Florida Panthers
8510.Buffalo Sabres
82
Eastern Conference, 4/1
1. y-Boston Bruins
108 pts
2. x-Washington Capitals
99
3. x-New Jersey Devils
98
4. Philadelphia Flyers 92
5. Carolina Hurricanes
91
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
90
7. New York Rangers
89
8. Montreal Canadiens
88
9. Florida Panthers
87
10. Buffalo Sabres
82
Eastern Conference, 4/1 1.y-Boston Bruins
108 pts2.x-Washington Capitals
993.x-New Jersey Devils
984.Philadelphia Flyers925.Carolina Hurricanes
916.Pittsburgh Penguins
907.New York Rangers
898.Montreal Canadiens
889.Florida Panthers
8710.Buffalo Sabres
82
Eastern Conference, 3/31
1.y-Boston Bruins
106 pts
2.x-Washington Capitals
99
3.x-New Jersey Devils
98
4.Philadelphia Flyers92
5.Carolina Hurricanes
91
6.Pittsburgh Penguins
90
7.New York Rangers
89
8.Montreal Canadiens
86
9.Florida Panthers
85
10.Buffalo Sabres
82
Eastern Conference, 4/1
1.y-Boston Bruins
108 pts
2.x-Washington Capitals
99
3.x-New Jersey Devils
98
4.Philadelphia Flyers92
5.Carolina Hurricanes
91
6.Pittsburgh Penguins
90
7.New York Rangers
89
8.Montreal Canadiens
88
9.Florida Panthers
87
10.Buffalo Sabres
82

It's good news and bad news for the Panthers. Florida whipped Ottawa, 5-2, but watched as Montreal beat Chicago at home. The Canadiens maintain a one-point lead over the Panthers, and they have a game in hand. Buffalo, meanwhile, is almost out of chances. They've won three straight, but it's not likely to be good enough to get in the playoffs.

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In the West

Western Conference, 3/31
1. y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts
2. x-Detroit Red Wings 107
3. Calgary Flames
92
4. Chicago Blackhawks
91
5. Vancouver Canucks
91
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
86
7. Nashville Predators
84
8. St. Louis Blues
83
9. Anaheim Ducks
82
10. Edmonton Oilers
81
11. Minnesota Wild
80
Western Conference, 3/31 1.y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts2.x-Detroit Red Wings1073.Calgary Flames
924.Chicago Blackhawks
915.Vancouver Canucks
916.Columbus Blue Jackets
867.Nashville Predators
848.St. Louis Blues
839.Anaheim Ducks
8210.Edmonton Oilers
8111.Minnesota Wild
80
Western Conference, 4/1
1. y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts
2. y-Detroit Red Wings
107
3. Vancouver Canucks
93
4. Calgary Flames 92
5. Chicago Blackhawks
91
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
88
7. Anaheim Ducks
84
8. Nashville Predators 84
9. St. Louis Blues 83
10. Minnesota Wild
81
11. Edmonton Oilers
81
Western Conference, 4/1 1.y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts2.y-Detroit Red Wings
1073.Vancouver Canucks
934.Calgary Flames925.Chicago Blackhawks
916.Columbus Blue Jackets
887.Anaheim Ducks
848.Nashville Predators 849.St. Louis Blues 8310.Minnesota Wild
8111.Edmonton Oilers
81
Western Conference, 3/31
1.y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts
2.x-Detroit Red Wings107
3.Calgary Flames
92
4.Chicago Blackhawks
91
5.Vancouver Canucks
91
6.Columbus Blue Jackets
86
7.Nashville Predators
84
8.St. Louis Blues
83
9.Anaheim Ducks
82
10.Edmonton Oilers
81
11.Minnesota Wild
80
Western Conference, 4/1
1.y-San Jose Sharks
111 pts
2.y-Detroit Red Wings
107
3.Vancouver Canucks
93
4.Calgary Flames92
5.Chicago Blackhawks
91
6.Columbus Blue Jackets
88
7.Anaheim Ducks
84
8.Nashville Predators 84
9.St. Louis Blues 83
10.Minnesota Wild
81
11.Edmonton Oilers
81

Oh, look at all the pretty colors.

Vancouver's overtime win over Minnesota gives them the Northwest Division lead. You have to be impressed with the Wild's ability to outshoot their opponent 11-0 in the third period but only get a point out of the deal.

Anaheim held on for dear life against Edmonton, which puts the Ducks back in the playoffs and leaves Edmonton in the same spot as the Wild, which is a precarious one. Both teams are, to put it kindly, longshots to make the playoffs.

******

.

What's Next

To say that St. Louis' game at Chicago is big would be a gross understatement. Anaheim won, and Nashville continues to play well, so the Blues need to keep pace.

New Jersey tries to break their skid as they play at Pittsburgh, while Washington will host the Islanders. Don't underestimate the importance of the second seed and home ice through at least the conference semifinals.

Also, Buffalo faces their latest must-win game at Atlanta. The Thrashers have actually won seven of their last ten, so this is hardly a cakewalk for the Sabres.

x - Clinched Playoff Spot, y - Division Champ, z - Conference Champ; green - Rise in the Standings, red - Fall. The top three teams in each conference are division leaders.

Canucks Take Northwest Lead originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Wed, 01 Apr 2009 11:45:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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