There’s no question that the Pacific Division of the Western Conference has been the best division in the National Hockey League — it’s a division that hosts all but one team with a serious chance to win a Stanley Cup this year or in the near future.
In such a stacked division, the closest comparison that comes to mind is the NFL’s NFC West. In that division, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have represented the entire NFC in the Super Bowl the last three times, while the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams had their Super Bowl visits come crashing at their feet not long before that.
The Kings of Los Angeles have won two of the last three Stanley Cups. The Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Anaheim Ducks have all had their fair share of flirting with championship teams in recent memory too–but the San Jose Sharks, along with the Edmonton Oilers, always seem to get the short end of the stick.
After falling to the Kings in the first round of last year’s playoffs after opening up with a 3-0 series lead, it seemed as if the Sharks had reached a new kind of low.
Blowing that massive of a series lead had literally happened a handful of times in the past century across all professional sports, including when the Boston Red Sox moved past the New York Yankees in seven games after losing the first three contests — a miracle that helped end Boston’s nearly ninety-year championship drought.
Ouch. Sounds like bad company.
This season the Sharks find themselves just behind the Los Angeles Kings in the race for the final playoff spot. The surging Minnesota Wild have provided legitimate competition for the final Western Conference slot and the Kings and Sharks would love nothing more than for that seed to come down to one of them.
Heck, we may even be able to see both L.A. and San Jose make the post season. Wouldn’t that be a doozy?
The fallout from the Vancouver Canucks recently at the goal tender position opens up just that kind of possibility. Stability and consistent hockey seems to finally be making its way back to Calgary, so the Flames shouldn’t have any issues and should be able to ride out the rest of this season.
Meanwhile in Anaheim, the Ducks are taking care of serious business with a division crown well in sight.
The odds don’t stack up in the Sharks’ favor exactly, but they feel like this is the time they now get to prove their doubters wrong.
The Sharks have not missed the playoffs in over a decade, and hope to see more playoff time this year.
San Jose’s next game is against the Montreal Canadiens at home. Puck drops at 10 PM ET.