Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/5/12
Theres still a month left in the NHLs regular season, but Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan wont be fooled by those semantics. "Its a playoff atmosphere," he said after the Stars beat Calgary 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday for their sixth win in seven games. Nowhere is that atmosphere more apparent than in the Pacific Division. One week ago, the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks were the only teams anybody outside Dallas and Los Angeles was talking about for the division crown. But thanks to a two-game Coyotes slide on home ice and the Sharks 2-7-1 mark in their last 10 games, three points now separate the top four teams in the Pacific. Phoenix and Dallas are tied at 75 points, San Jose has 73 and L.A. has 72. With Anaheim seemingly out of gas, one of those four teams will emerge with the division title and the coveted No. 3 playoff seed, which affords home-ice advantage in the first round. On the ominous flip side is the reality that one, maybe two of those teams will miss the postseason since the Central Division appears ready to lock up four of the Wests eight playoff spots while Vancouver has all but clinched the Northwest. "There ain't no weak sisters," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of the rugged Western Conference. Its impossible to handicap the Pacific race. Just when you think you have a handle on it, the sands shift. The Stars and Kings looked dead at one point. The Sharks appeared headed for another division crown before the Coyotes steamrolled through February with an 11-0-1 mark that had long-suffering fans envisioning their first playoff series win in the franchises 15-year history in the Valley. Now, the Sharks are in the eighth and final playoff spot while the chronically slow-starting Coyotes are struggling for offense, struggling with their puck possession and facing a two-game trip against red-hot Pittsburgh and Columbus, a team that belies its NHL-worst record whenever it plays the Coyotes and won 5-2 Saturday at Jobing.com Arena. "Were not good enough," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after Phoenixs second loss to the Blue Jackets this season. "The emotional engagement that we can bring in for short periods -- why dont we have that the whole time? Thats puzzling for our group right now. "Weve got two hard road games here, back to back. If we go in and want to play loose, I dont like our chances." Phoenix doesnt play Los Angeles again this season, but the Coyotes have three games left with the Sharks and another date with Dallas. In addition to that Coyotes game, the Stars also play San Jose three more times. The Sharks get three games each with Phoenix, Dallas and L.A., while the Kings have just those three games left with the Sharks among their key intradivisional matchups. These blood feuds will likely be where the Pacific is won. "We haven't been in the playoffs for a couple years, so definitely, we need to step up here, Dallas forward Loui Eriksson said. We've been playing really well lately, but it's so tight in the conference. Every game is huge for us. We need to win every one." Fox Sports Southwest and FOX Sports West contributed to this report
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Report: Chris Sale incident had to do with team executives

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’

Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with hip-hop star Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

RUMOR: Celtics sign Green, Zeller and two others to contract deals

Kevin Durant Thunder jerseys going for less than 50 cents in OKC

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Orioles affiliate pay tribute to David Bowie on their jerseys

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker