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Sharks, Kings, Coyotes clinch playoff berths after Stars, Avalanche losses

Harrison Mooney
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There's still the little matter of seeding to deal with, so don't think you can go to bed early on Friday and Saturday (I'm talking to you, biased East Coast media), but after Thursday night's action, the Western Conference playoff picture is officially set.

The Dallas Stars' hopes of earning a playoff berth ended Thursday with their 4th consecutive defeat, a loss to the Nashville Predators. The Stars needed at least a point to stay alive in the West, but they couldn't put any of their 28 shots past Pekka Rinne, falling 2-0.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche were eliminated with a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets (although one assumes they had already accepted their elimination, what with the way they got routed by the Blue Jackets). Their playoff berth was a longshot; now it's a mathematically impossibility, like paying off the U.S. National Debt, or Spongebob Squarepants's pineapple house.

With the losses, the San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, and Los Angeles Kings can all rest easy.

Unlike in the Eastern Conference, however, where the playoff matchups are already beginning to take shape, the West could see some major shuffling over the coming days. At the time of this writing, not a single seed is set in stone.

With the Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Calgary Flames, the St. Louis Blues can win the West with victories in their final 2 games. Nashville can still be passed by Detroit for 4th, and Detroit can still be passed by Chicago for 5th.

The Pacific Division title is still up for grabs as well, which means the 3rd, 7th, and 8th seeds won't be known until the weekend.

In short, there's still plenty of intrigue in the West. Just not as much as there was this morning.

Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney

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