If the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs started Thursday, the Wild would be matched up with Dallas in the first round.

The Stars are the top team in the Western Conference with 97 points. Four of their 44 victories were against the Wild.

Dallas has eight games remaining — five against teams in a playoff spot and one against a team, Colorado, that is one point out — to try to hold onto the top spot in the conference. St.Louis is two points behind, Los Angeles is four points back, and Chicago six points back. So the top spot in the West likely will come down to one of four teams.

The Wild is 2-2-1 against St.Louis. The Wild improved to 2-1 against Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The Wild is 4-0 against Chicago.

The Wild also has eight games remaining — two against teams in a playoff spot and two against teams one point out of a playoff spot — to hold onto the final wild-card spot. The most important of the bunch is Saturday at Colorado. The Avalanche is one point behind the Wild.

JASON GONZALEZ