Who will the Sharks face in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Who do they want to face in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Let’s look at that moving target as of this moment, go through the possibilities, and decide.
As of this moment, the Western Conference field is not set. There are nine teams playing for eight spots. The Minnesota Wild can clinch a spot and eliminate Columbus if they win tonight against Edmonton in any fashion, and if that doesn’t happen, they’ll have another chance at Colorado on Saturday.
Detroit can get into the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season if they get one point in their season finale against Dallas.
Columbus can get in if they win their last game against Nashville, but only if the Red Wings lose in regulation to Dallas. Then, the final team, either Minnesota or Detroit, would be determined by the outcomes of the last two Minnesota games. Detroit would need a lot of help to make it in that situation.
Has your head exploded yet?
Now, let’s look at the possible opponents, and render a decision as to which one you want to play.
The Sharks can still finish fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh in the Western Conference. Their potential opponents could be: Anaheim, Vancouver, St. Louis, or Los Angeles.
ST. LOUIS: It could be a setup to avenge last season’s WCQF defeat, but it would also involve the most travel for San Jose in the first round. St. Louis is a good sports town, and the Sharks have faced St. Louis four times in the playoffs, so there’s a longstanding rivalry there.
VANCOUVER: Another opportunity to avenge a stinging playoff defeat, this time the WCF round in 2011. Vancouver is a great city with passionate fans. It isn’t a long flight to VAN, either. It would be a great series.
LOS ANGELES and ANAHEIM: No explanation is really necessary, is it? These are the two big geographical rivals for the Sharks, it’s an easier travel situation, and either series would be a classic. The Sharks would get the chance to either knock out the defending Stanley Cup champions or would have a chance to avenge a bitterly disappointing playoff loss in 2009.
FINAL VERDICT: The Sharks want to finish the season with a winning note on the road, and that would give them their only chance to capture home ice with a fourth seed. But as to the opponent or the seeding, it really doesn’t matter. Let’s remember the lesson from last year, when the eighth-seeded Kings steamrolled through everyone to win the Stanley Cup. In the final analysis, winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing that matters, regardless of playoff seeding or opponent.
See you on the radio on Saturday in Los Angeles, and find out how it all turns out!