With three games remaining, it looks like the Sharks might get a chance to redeem themselves after their 2014 collapse.
The San Jose Sharks have reached the final week in what has been a bounce back campaign for team teal. Now, all that’s left to determine is who their first-round opponent will be when the postseason commences in more than a weeks time.
At this point, there are likely only two realistic options for the Sharks, and both reside in Southern California. Expect San Jose’s first-round matchup to come against either one of their division rivals in the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks.
Currently, San Jose trails the division-leading Ducks by four points, while finding themselves three points behind the Kings. Anaheim has a game in hand on both the Sharks and Kings, so they control their own destiny.
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After a torrid stretch, all three teams in the Pacific have struggled a little bit of late. San Jose has gone 5-5 in their past 10 games as they haven’t been able to take advantage of stumbles by their rivals. Los Angeles has been faltering, dropping six of their past eight games, including a 3-2 loss in Vancouver last night.
Anaheim has been able to take advantage of the Kings struggles by winning four of their last five to vault into pole position in the Pacific.
All of this is leading up to a critical matchup between L.A. and Anaheim on Thursday night when they square off at Staples Center for the final time this season. This game could very well decide the winner in the division and which team will slide into the California series.
With the way things are trending, San Jose will get an opportunity to avenge their 2014 first-round collapse at the hands of the Kings. Peter DeBoer has spent all season talking about how this group is different, and what better way to showcase that than by squaring off against the team that humiliated you the last time the Sharks were in the postseason.
It wouldn’t be an easy matchup by any stretch, and let’s be honest there aren’t any in the West, but it would certainly be compelling, must-see TV.
Tonight will be another big night in determining the first-round matchups in the Pacific as all three teams will be in action. San Jose is on the road for the final time in the regular season as they take on the Minnesota Wild, who can lock down a playoff spot of their own with a victory.
Meanwhile, the Kings are playing the second half of a back-to-back in Calgary while the Ducks host Winnipeg in their final home game. It should make for a fascinating evening of hockey as these three teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning.