And it all comes down to this. One game against a division rival. If things go in their favor, this game… the last regular season game for the 2011-2012 National Hockey League season can be the Pacific Division Championship Game. Picture an entire seven game series being played out in one game. Epic at the Shark Tank tonight.
So before we can even begin talking about tonight, let’s explain (in simple English, I hope) what can occur as all 30 teams in the NHL skate today. At 5pm Pacific time, the Phoenix Coyotes will take on the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul. By the time the Sharks finish handing out awards in the pregame, the outcome of the Pacific Division may or may not be determined. Here are the scenarios:
Minnesota wins in regulation:
The winner of Los Angeles at San Jose will win the Pacific Divsion. If San Jose loses, they will be the #8 due to regulation/overtime win tiebreaker.
Phoenix wins or loses in overtime or shootout:
The Phoenix Coyotes will win their first division title since the franchise joined the NHL in 1979-80. The winner of Los Angeles @ San Jose will be the #7 seed, the loser #8 regardless of when the win occurs.
Now that I have a headache figuring that out, heads were rung on Thursday night as a ultra physical game played out as San Jose beat Los Angeles 6-5 in a shootout that saw two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, a boarding call that didn’t get a game misconduct, a blindsided hit that received nothing, and oh yeah, Ryane Clowe pokechecking the puck from the bench. (For the record, this blogger says Clowe should’ve got a penalty, so don’t blast me Kings fans.)
Expect everything tonight. It can be a slow, dragging 2-1 game, to an all out brawl or a repeat of an epic game. With Torrey Mitchell out due to that blindsided hit he took on Thursday, Michal Handzus, a King last year, will be in the lineup for San Jose. Otherwise, the lineups should remain the same.
No matter what happens, this game will be a great one. However, things would be different if two bad situations weren’t played out:
Perhaps the Kings do win the game in OT, or shootout… if it goes to the shootout and the Kings win, San Jose would currently be in 7th instead of 8th. San Jose would definitely be in 7th if it weren’t for…
A blatant bad call, forces the Sharks to lose a Regulation/Overtime Win and take a win in the shootout. Because of that, San Jose has 33 ROWs not 34, and doesn’t have the luxury of having the chance with a tiebreaker with Phoenix. Hence, Phoenix must lose in regulation or else San Jose will start on the road for the playoffs. Nice job NHL jobbing us again.
It is Fan Appreciation Night. Every fan will get a Sharks tote bag, there will be Easter mystery pucks for sale at both entrances, giveaways all night long, and of course a 2nd intermission tweetup! We will tweetup at the Sharks Kiosk by section 118/120.
Most importantly, when you walk inside the Shark Tank, I want to hear you all night long. I want that Beat LA chant to be heard not only outside the arena, but all the way to Los Angeles. LET’S PUCKING DO THIS!!!