Kings vs. Avs: The Unquestioned Most Important NHL Game of the Season Thus Far

The NHL's Western Conference standings have been all over the map this year, with even the Kings in first place at one point, but if I were to travel back to September and show any hockey pundit today's standings, they would no doubt believe that I took over as league commissioner before what is posted below:

Western Conference

 Team GP Pts  1. * Chicago 71 97    2. * Phoenix 73 97    3. * Vancouver 72 92    4. San Jose 72 96    5. Nashville 73 89    6. Los Angeles 70 87    7. Colorado 71 86    8. Detroit 71 83    9. Calgary 72 81    10. St. Louis 72 77    11. Anaheim 71 76    12. Minnesota 72 76    13. Dallas 72 76    14. Columbus 72 70    15. Edmonton 72 53  

Most notable is the surge by the unlikely Phoenix Coyotes in to first place in the Pacific Division, surpassing last year's Presidents Trophy winners the San Jose Sharks. As I've said in previous articles, the only way I ever thought that could happen would be due to some sort of tragedy to Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, or Patrick Marleau, but the Coyotes have claimed the top spot in the Pacific through traditional means: winning.

The 'Yotes are 9-1-0 in their last ten games in this, the most crucial time of the season. They are no doubt the hottest team in the league right now.

The Kings would currently be seeded sixth, at only one point above the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Obviously, the outright winner of this game would have a stranglehold on that sixth spot. Should the Avs win in Overtime or a shootout, they would be tied in points, but the Kings would have a game in hand.

The points indicate what place each team will finish, and moreover...

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