The Pacific Division truly is coming down to the wire. The other two divisions in the Western Conference have already been clinched, while the Los Angeles Kings currently sit just one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks for the lead in the Pacific. The Phoenix Coyotes are also one point ahead of the Sharks, but don't have the tiebreaker over Los Angeles. The Dallas Stars are also in the mix, but they're three points back of the Sharks and currently at No. 9 in the conference, outside of the playoffs.
Fortunately for the Sharks, they've got their destiny in their hands, as it stands. They have two games remaining, both against the Kings, and can at least ensure themselves a No. 7 seed if they win them both. They can also secure themselves the division, but the Coyotes have games against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild to end their season, and could steal the division if San Jose is beating Los Angeles.
Still, playoffs aren't guaranteed at this point, and rather than look for that No. 3 spot and watch the standings, the Sharks simply need to make sure they win their two games. If they do, they're in the playoffs and all is fine. Relatively speaking, of course, as a whole new list of scenarios and worries will arise once they do punch their ticket in.
But that's getting a bit ahead, isn't it?
Los Angeles isn't just going to roll over. Not if defenseman Drew Doughty has anything to say about it. CSN Bay Area had a piece with a quote from Doughty, in which he says the Kings want to knock the Sharks out of the picture:
Doughty said: "We definitely want to do whatever we can to knock them out of the playoff picture. We want third place, and that's what we're going to play for. These two games mean a lot, not only for third place but just being able to push a team like that out of the playoffs is a big momentum boost for us."
It makes sense that Doughty would want more than to simply make the playoffs, but to kick the Sharks out on the way in. San Jose has been dominant for years, in the division and in the conference. The Kings have always been a team who has played them well, but has been unable to compete when it came to the standings. Morale is everything at this time of year, and it would be huge if they knock off the Sharks.
Los Angeles, and really, most of the Pacific Division have spent the last few seasons building up to beat the Sharks specifically. Their rosters are set to counter the Sharks, and San Jose certainly hasn't had an easy season. It's time to get down to business for the Sharks, and show that there's not going to be a huge power shift, and it all starts on Thursday night in Los Angeles.