The San Jose Sharks currently sport a 10-1-3 record and are the top team in the Pacific Division. While one regulation loss through the first 14 games might lead one to believe that the Sharks are running away with the division crown, that just isn’t the case. San Jose is tied with Anaheim with 23 points, leads the third-place Phoenix Coyotes by a single point and the fourth-place Vancouver Canucks by two.
Still within striking distance are the Los Angeles Kings, who trail San Jose by five points.
Only the Central Division features a team that would be higher than the Sharks in the divisional standings. Even with the Colorado Avalanche in front of them by a point, San Jose would hold a five-point lead over the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
The Sharks would be on top in the Atlantic, and would be seven points ahead of the fourth-place Boston Bruins. San Jose would also be winning the Metropolitan Division, and would have an 11-point cushion over the fourth-place New York Rangers.
All of this is to say that the Pacific is far and away the toughest division in the NHL right now, and that the Sharks absolutely need to continue their strong level of play if they hope to be a playoff team.
It’s hard to imagine, but there are viable scenarios that see San Jose missing the postseason while the New York Islanders (6-5-3) and the Washington Capitals (7-7) are there to compete for the Stanley Cup.
There’s a good chance that five teams from the Pacific make the playoffs though, which is a pretty remarkable turnout. The Kings are tired with St. Louis for the final Wild Card (ick) spot. That makes the Pacific the new Central Division. For a few years running, the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Blues and Nashville Predators were all in contention to make the postseason.
The Sharks are now involved in a similar situation in the Pacific. It’s plausible that San Jose could be in fourth in the division by the end of the week. A loss to the Canucks on Thursday would almost certainly drop them out of the top spot at least.
Anaheim hasn’t fallen off at all after nearly matching the Sharks in the hot-start department. With the Ducks killing it on their long road trip, there’s no reason to believe that they’re going to fall off any time soon.
Phoenix proved to be too tough to handle on Saturday, while the Sharks and Kings have already played one tight contest.
It’s possible that the points that are falling into place now will be the difference between winning the Division and fighting for a Wild Card spot at the end of the season. It’s insane how tight the Pacific is right now, which makes San Jose’s improving health all the more important.