NHL Playoff Picture 2011: Vancouver Becomes First Team In, Sits Atop Jumbled Western Conference

The Western Conference playoff picture in the NHL is just absolutely insane, and it's been that way for months. Still, the first team in the 2011 NHL playoffs is the Vancouver Canucks, who clinched on Wednesday night with a win over Colorado. Outside of that, there's a lot of mayhem.

ALREADY IN

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks, with 103 points. They've basically clinched a top-two spot, and there's a better-than-95-percent chance that they finish as the top overall team in the West. 

ALMOST THERE

No. 2 Detroit needs five wins in their last 12 games to officially wrap up a spot, and that's if the teams on the outside win the rest of their games. No. 3 San Jose needs six wins in 11 games to accomplish that.

ON THE BUBBLE *deep breath*

... and it's a huge freakin' bubble. The No. 5-ranked Los Angeles Kings, the No. 11 Minnesota Wild and everybody in between can all be considered questionable in terms of their current playoff status. Instead of trying to explain all of it with words, a visual makes it much easier.

No. 4 Los Angeles Kings -- 70 GP, 85 points
No. 5 Phoenix Coyotes -- 71 GP, 85 points
No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks -- 70 GP, 84 points
No. 7 Dallas Stars -- 70 GP, 82 points
No. 8 Anaheim Ducks -- 70 GP, 81 points
-------------
No. 9 Calgary Flames -- 72 GP, 81 points
No. 10 Nashville Predators -- 70 GP, 80 points
No. 11 Minnesota Wild -- 70 GP, 77 points

Um, yeah.

In the worst shape in this bunch has to be the Calgary Flames. Not only have they played more games than everybody else, they're also behind everybody when it comes to wins in regulation and overtime. Since shootout wins don't count in terms of the tiebreak this year, and the very real possibility of a tiebreak making the difference between playoffs and no playoffs, the Flames aren't in an enviable position.

Also, you can't feel all that good about the chances the Minnesota Wild have at this point, four points back with no games in hand and 12 games to play. Still, hope is not lost. 

Los Angeles and Phoenix need eight wins to clinch, Chicago needs nine wins to clinch and there's not all that much certainty for the Stars or Ducks. 

We'll throw No. 12 Columbus on the bubble for now with 74 points and 69 games played, but the playoffs are a long shot for them at this point.

BOOKIN' TEE TIMES

 No. 13 St. Louis Blues (71 points), No. 14 Colorado Avalanche (60 points), No. 15 Edmonton Oilers (55 points)

If the playoffs began today, here's how things would look in the West:

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Anaheim Ducks
No. 2 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 7 Dallas Stars
No. 3 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks
No. 4 Los Angeles Kings vs. No. 5 Phoenix Coyotes

Outside looking in: No. 9 Calgary Flames, No. 10 Nashville Predators, No. 11 Minnesota Wild, No.12 Columbus Blue Jackets and everybody else. 

Much of the data used comes via PlayoffStatus.com

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