Originally posted on Rob The Hockey Guy  |  Last updated 2/12/12

It goes without saying that finishing first in the conference is very important, but it’s likely going to be a lot more advantageous this year than last. Last year, the reward for finishing in first place was a date with the Chicago Blackhawks. I don’t think I need to remind anyone how hard that turned out to be.

Taking a look at the Western Conference standings as it looks today, the 8th place team is likely to be one of Phoenix, Calgary or Dallas. Colorado and Minnesota are also in the mix, but I don’t think they have what it takes to ultimately secure the final playoff spot. It’s also possible that Chicago or Los Angeles could slip up and finish in 8th, but I think that’s unlikely.

With a 14 point cushion on Calgary in the Northwest Division, the Canucks look like a sure bet to win their division. That ensures them a top 3 finish in the conference, but settling for 2nd or 3rd in the conference isn’t a wise state of mind.

Playing a weaker opponent in the first round is very important in order to finish off a series quickly and reduce the chance of injuries. If the Canucks finish in second spot, they would likely have to play the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are a team that the Canucks have had  a lot of trouble with in recent years. They’re also big and physical. Avoiding the Kings and getting Phoenix or Calgary (the two most likely opponents to finish in 8th spot) would be advisable.

While Phoenix and Calgary aren’t exactly doormats, the Canucks match-up well against them. Calgary is a physical team, they have great goaltending and they have Jarome Iginla, but they’re thin everywhere else. Phoenix has the defensive coaching guru, Dave Tippett, but they don’t hold a candle to the Canucks in talent.

While it’s a bit of an obvious statement to make, it’s particularly important this year to finish in first place. The difference between the number 8 seed and the number 7 seed is likely to be immense. That’s why it’s important that the Canucks get on a roll down the stretch and surpass Detroit for top spot.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Richard Sherman shades Bills for benching Tyrod Taylor

Report: D’Onta Foreman believed to have torn Achilles’ tendon

Hue Jackson sticking with DeShone Kizer for Week 12

Report: Josh Rosen especially upset over Jim Mora firing

Michael Irvin goes on bizarre rant about offensive linemen

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

White House social media director takes shot at LaVar Ball

Clay Matthews leaves Week 11 game with groin injury

Jim Mora fired by UCLA

WATCH: Texans celebrate Lamar Miller TD with relay in end zone

Hue Jackson reportedly wants more control in front office

Report: Markelle Fultz out at least another 2-3 weeks

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

NFL Week 11 predictions

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

Time to admit the Blues are good, but can they be great?

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 Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Week 11 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

NFL Week 11 predictions

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