This year’s Pacific Division race will be tight as three teams will be fighting for the title. Right now, the San Jose Sharks have the edge on the Anaheim Ducks and the Dallas Stars.
Through yesterday’s games, San Jose held a three-point lead on Anaheim and is four ahead of Dallas.
If San Jose can win in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, Team Teal would sit five points up on second place Anaheim and would close to within five points of Detroit for first overall in the NHL.
The team’s approach? Very simple. Just take it one step at a time, just as they have in taking 23 of the last 24 available points.
“We’ll just take it one game at a time, one shift at a time,” defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. “We’re focusing on the subject at hand. If we win our games, we’ll end up on top of our division.”
“We don’t want to look too far ahead,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
said. “We have everything in our hands.”
This year, the Sharks are in a better position to control their destiny than they did last year.
“Last year, we had to hope for other teams to lose,” Vlasic said. “If we take care of our business, we’ll end up in second or even first overall and that’s a pretty good deal.”
Don’t think the Sharks aren’t watching the scoreboard on a nightly basis.
“Of course, we’re rooting for Anaheim and Dallas to lose, but if we win, we don’t have to worry about that,” defenseman Douglas Murray
said. “I’m watching the Eastern Conference too.”
There’s a reason why the Sharks should keep an eye on the Eastern Conference. If the standings stay status quo and the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they would have home ice advantage against any Eastern Division team.
But first, there’s the matter of settling things in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference.
Of the Western Conference’s top four point producers, Detroit has the edge on paper when it comes to scheduling. The Red Wings have nine games remaining and none are against a team currently in the playoff picture. In fact, Detroit is under .500 within their division, the Central.
On the other hand, San Jose leads all four clubs with 10 games left to play. Five are against playoff contenders: Anaheim and Dallas twice and Minnesota once. San Jose’s non-playoff opponents include Los Angeles three times and Phoenix twice.
Dallas and Anaheim have the exact same opponents remaining with two against each other and two against San Jose, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
The Pacific Division could be decided on the last day of the season when San Jose is in Dallas.
“The two games against Anaheim and Dallas will be the ultimate test to keep first place in our division,” right wing Devin Setoguchi said.
Detroit has three back-to-back sets while the Sharks, Ducks and Stars have two each. San Jose plays five at home and five on the road while Detroit plays five at home and four on the road and Dallas and Anaheim each have four home and four road games remaining.
The common opponents and head-to-head battles ensure that the Pacific Division winner will have earned the title down the stretch.
“The guys realize that to win we have to pay the price,” defenseman Craig Rivet said. “It’s a dog fight to get to second (overall). We know the repercussions if we don’t. It’s playing Dallas or Anaheim. We want to be that team that plays the lower seeded team.”
NO. 4 OR NO. 5
|Jeremy Roenick was presented the glass that deflected his 500th career goal following the game against St. Louis on March 14. |
Regardless of how San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim finish the season, the best the runners-up can be is the fourth or fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Northwest Division winner will secure the third seed.
A UNIQUE PIECE OF MEMORABILIA
The Sharks created a memento from the piece of glass that Jeremy Roenick’s 500th goal caromed off of and into the net. He scored that milestone goal on Nov. 10 vs. Phoenix at HP Pavilion.
“It’s awesome,” Roenick said. “It’s one of the most unique things I’ve ever gotten and the goal was unique. I’ll never forget it.”
The Sharks will visit Los Angeles on Tuesday with the 7:30 p.m. game available on FSN Bay Area (joined in progress and beginning on FSN Plus), 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.