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Blackhawks Vs. Red Wings: NHL Standings Alter Chicago's Incentive To Win

When the Chicago Blackhawks (44-26-11, 99 pts) take on the Detroit Red Wings (48-28-5, 101 pts) on Saturday afternoon, the 2012 NHL Standings are the one thing everyone will be watching. The Blackhawks currently hold the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket, but they still have the opportunity to jump up to the No. 5 slot with a win on Saturday, because they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Red Wings.

However, they may actually want to lose in Saturday's game to avoid a first-round matchup against the Nashville Predators, who have given the Hawks fits with their neutral zone traps and grinding style. If Chicago does lose, the Red Wings could get home ice against the Predators (if Nashville loses in regulation on Saturday) and the Blackhawks would take on the winner of the Pacific division, which will either be the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks or Phoenix Coyotes -- Phoenix currently holds a one-point lead over the Kings and Sharks for that No. 3 slot.

Because it's all that really matters at this point, here is a complete look at the Western Conference playoff standings heading into Saturday's games:

1 y - Vancouver Canucks 81 50 22 109
2 y - St. Louis Blues 81 48 22 107
3 x - Phoenix Coyotes 81 41 27 95
4 x - Nashville Predators 81 47 26 102
5 x - Detroit Red Wings 81 48 28 101
6 x - Chicago Blackhawks 81 44 26 99
7 x - Los Angeles Kings 81 40 27 94
8 x - San Jose Sharks 81 42 29 94

Game Time: 12:00 p.m. CDT

TV/Radio: NBC, WGN-AM 720

For more on this game, stick with SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage of the Blackhawks, visit Second City Hockey. For more news, notes and analysis around the league head over to SB Nation's NHL news hub.