When the San Jose Sharks woke up Thursday morning, they saw their team sharing the Pacific Division lead with Dallas. Not that long ago, San Jose trailed Dallas in points by double digits.
Both clubs are holding at 66 points, with the Stars having played one less game. The two clubs were separated by 10 points not long ago, but times have quickly changed.
The Pacific Division title is clearly up for grabs among all five rivals as Phoenix (65 points), Anaheim (64) and Los Angeles (60) are all within reach of first place. San Jose and Dallas atop the Pacific Division will remind long-time Sharks fans of the days when the two alternately shared the Pacific Division title from 2001-06.
So how did San Jose make up the 10-point deficit so quickly? Nothing more than going on their current 9-0-1 tear to accrue 19 of the available 20 points. Only three other NHL clubs have won eight games over the same 10-game stretch. Wednesday’s victory against Columbus increased San Jose’s winning streak to five, their longest of the season. The only loss during the run was a shootout tilt with the Kings where San Jose took one of the two points.
As every Sharks fan knows, winning the Pacific Division title is important for playoff seeding. A title means San Jose is guaranteed home ice advantage in the quarterfinals and they have a better chance of keeping home ice advantage as they would be no less than third in the overall Western Conference standings.
No doubt, there’s a bit of pride in the Sharks room in defending their division title. Playing well is more important when the playoffs begin, but everyone in the room wants to win a fourth straight division crown.
Whether under the old Smythe Division label or the current moniker, the most dominant run in the Sharks division (since their inception in 1991-92) has been three consecutive titles, accomplished previously by Colorado and Dallas, in addition to the current Sharks stretch. Four straight division crowns would be quite impressive and something fans can talk about for a long time.
Rookie Logan Couture
is leading the Sharks in goals, all National Hockey League rookies in goals and all NHLers in game-winning goals, along with the fact that he’s closing in on the NHL’s all-time rookie record for game-winning goals (he’s one away), but is also riding a seven-game point streak.
The Sharks visit the New Jersey Devils on Friday and the game will be on at 4 p.m. on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.