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Race for the Playoffs: Stars-Coyotes highlights a night of tests for West teams

Dallas Stars v Phoenix Coyotes

of the Dallas Stars of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Arena on March 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.

Christian Petersen

With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”

For the Eastern Conference breakdown, click here. Now let’s get to the West’s biggest games.

Western Conference

1. Vancouver - 109 pts (76 Games Played)
2. Detroit - 98 pts (76 GP)
3. San Jose - 97 pts (76 GP)
4. Phoenix - 93 pts (77 GP)
5. Los Angeles - 92 pts (75 GP)
6. Nashville - 92 pts (76 GP)
7. Anaheim - 91 pts (76 GP)
8. Chicago - 90 pts (75 GP)
9. Calgary - 87 pts (77 GP)
10. Dallas - 86 pts (74 GP)

7:30 pm ET

Chicago @ Boston

This is the tough second half of challenging back-to-back games for the Blackhawks, who beat the Red Wings on the road last night. They might have earned two points last night, but this is just another game in a must-win stretch for the team. Dallas is four points behind them right now, but the Stars have a game in hand and play a game late tonight. If Chicago loses, that cushion could get dangerously small in one night.

8:00 pm ET

Vancouver @ Nashville

The Predators are currently on a six-game winning streak and the Canucks don’t have much at stake in this game, but Vancouver is never an easy out. This team built a nice lead by beating the Stars and Ducks last week, but cannot rest on their laurels just yet. They play four of their last six games in Nashville, so maybe the Preds could move up the ladder a bit?

9:30 pm ET

Los Angeles @ Edmonton

The Kings begin life without Anze Kopitar in this game, while Dustin Penner gets to play against his former pals in the Oilers. Los Angeles has a great chance to earn the fourth seed and an outside shot at winning the Pacific Division, but it won’t be easy for them to reach that objective without their leading scorer, though.

10:00 pm ET

Dallas @ Phoenix

The Stars hope to close the gap between themselves and the Blackhawks while the Coyotes only have five games left to make sure that they don’t fall to one of the West’s lower seeds. Surely Dave Tippett would like to make life difficult for his former team by beating them in this big game tonight. It’s a more desperate situation for Dallas, but the Yotes still have plenty to play for too.