Pacific Division standings as of March 22:
Divisional Matchups of the week:
Anaheim @ San Jose 3/18 – ANA 2, SJS 1
Los Angeles @ Calgary 3/19 – LAK 2, CGY 5
Los Angeles @ Edmonton 3/20 – LAK 0, EDM 2
Sharks Staying First
19 days remain in the NHL regular season schedule. 19 days. As teams across the league, including the Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, clinch playoff appearances, no team in the Pacific has done so yet. The Sharks will most likely be the first. They sit first place in the division, as they have for the majority of the season, with 91 points in 73 games. Led by Norris Trophy favorite Brent Burns, the Sharks have led this division by a comfortable margin for most of the season. However, they have now lost four games in a row and that margin is decreasing. The Sharks are 5-6 this month. While that record is not atrocious by any means, and enough to keep their lead in the division, Edmonton, Anaheim and Calgary are closing in.
Where Will They Land?
The Pacific Division has been interesting this year. Maybe because I am on the East Coast and not looking at this division with a magnifying glass, as I do the Atlantic, but there has been a great deal of movement the past few weeks. Yes, San Jose holds first. But, between Edmonton, Anaheim and Calgary, their positions seem to be changing weekly. Currently, Edmonton and Anaheim are tied in points with 87, but the Oilers win the tiebreaker to take second in the division. The Flames are right behind them with 86 points and an extra game played. With the Kings seeming to fall off and only have 75 points and Winnipeg with 73, these three teams should all be in the post season.
Now, for the interesting part, comes the seeding. On the other side of the West, you have Nashville and St. Louis both with 83 points. Most likely, one will land in the third divisional spot and the other in the second wild card spot. Both the Oilers and the Ducks have ten games remaining and the Flames have 9. During these last 19 days, the one thing I do know is that positions will change. The battle of second place continues tonight as Edmonton and Anaheim face off. It will be interesting to see if the red-hot Flames from a week ago can get back on track and if the young star Connor McDavid can continue to lead his Edmonton team into the playoffs on the right foot.