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Western Conference scoreboard watch - April 4, 2011

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The playoff picture is starting to come into focus, and while SportsClubStats shows that the Preds could still end up anywhere from 4th to 9th, the likeliest results are for a 5th- or 6th-place finish. The opponent in that round is still very much up for grabs, however, so tonight's lone Western Conference battle will bear watching:

Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks (9:00 p.m. Central on VERSUS)
The Sharks are looking to clinch the Pacific Division title, while the Kings currently have the inside track for earning 4th place in the West, and home-ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs. If L.A. loses in regulation, however, they'll be just one point ahead of the Preds with 3 tough divisional games left.

Other Hockey Articles Worth a Read

Honkey Tonk Hockey | USA Hockey Magazine
Outside of a regrettably fictitious vision of how the Predators hit the ice at the start of a home game, this is a good overview of the status of Middle Tennessee as a hockey community. I know as an adult rec league player that we desperately need some more ice around town.

Red Light District: Rinne’s steady rise to elite status
Ryan Porth chronicles the slow development path that has led Pekka Rinne to his current position as one of the game's top goaltenders. For those who get impatient about wanting to see some prospects play here in Nashville more quickly, just look at how Rinne, Weber, and Ryan Suter have developed over time.

Who is the NHL's top defenceman? - The Globe and Mail
Eric Duhatschek (who was already one of my favorite hockey writers), makes a strong case for Shea Weber as deserving this year's Norris Trophy. It'll be interesting to see if he gets an invitiation to Las Vegas at least as a finalist...