So the out of town scoreboard took a while to really start doing us some favours and yet here we are. Last night the LA Kings blew out the Edmonton Oilers by a 8-2 Score while the Calgary Flames lost to the Blues 4-1. What does this mean for the big picture?
For the purposes of the Sharks making the playoffs The Anaheim Ducks, The Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild are irrelevant to our playoff chances, they have all clinched playoff spots or are simply out of the Sharks reach. This leaves 3 teams in the mix and because of the slumping Jets there is a chance at two playoff seeds although I can’t stress enough very small chances, and the fact that these chances are based on the idea of the Sharks winning out without going to the shootout in any of their remaining games. A Sharks loss from here on would change things, perhaps catastrophically.
So let’s start with the Sharks. As stated above they have to win out in their last 5 games including their game tonight against the Coyotes. However on paper this schedule is very soft, they do get the stars who don’t know they are out of it yet and may prove tricky but they also get another game against the Coyotes as well as one against the Oilers and finally their season finale against the LA Kings which could literally be for all the marbles.
The Flames are the highest seeded team as of today, sitting 3rd in the pacific. With their loss to the blues they need one regulation win and 2 other points in order to become irrelevant to the Sharks playoff hopes. They have a even mix of what should be easy wins and dog fight games left. Their next 2 games are against the Oilers and Coyotes before they wrap up their season fighting for their playoff lives against the Kings and Jets.
The Kings currently sit in the final wildcard spot with Calgary only one point ahead of them in the 3rd divisional seed. The Kings will need 3 regulation wins to stay ahead of the Sharks for good in the standings. The kings have a mixed bag of games on their remaining 5 game schedule, including the Avalanche, Canucks, Oilers, Flames and Sharks.
The Jets are currently on the outside looking in and have a schedule that does them no favours combined that with the fact that one of their best players in Dustin Byfuglien will be serving a suspension of 4 of the 5 remaining games they are probably the most likely team to fall out of the playoffs. They need 6 points in their remaining 5 games to become irrelevant to the Sharks playoff push. Their remaining games are against the Canucks, Wild, Blues, Avalanche and Flames. The Avalanche is the only team in that list I think they should win the rest are any ones game.
Tonight’s Match up:
Tonight the Sharks will host the Arizona Coyotes in their 2nd last home game of the year and the first half of a home and home series. So far this year the sharks have gotten the better of their divisional rivals winning 2 of the 3 games they have played thus far. Vlasic remains out of the line up as he continues to be day to day, to make matters on the Sharks blue line worse Hannan is also questionable for tonight’s game. If Hannan is unable to go expect Karl Stollery who was acquired at the deadline from the Avalanche for Freddie Hamilton to get the call, as well as Fedun to continue drawing in for Vlasic. Starting in goal for the sharks tonight will likely be Antti Niemi as it appears that Stalock is now on the worst end of the bug moving through the sharks dressing room. Stalock had done an admirable job in Niemi’s absence showing glimpses of the Stalock we saw last year. The Sharks playoff hopes come down to them running the table, they need help elsewhere, sure but they have to help themselves.