Last night, the San Jose Sharks secured the second seed in the Western Conference heading into the 2010-2011 NHL Playoffs. Right now, it feels like they can beat any team in the league (oddly enough, at this point last season, when they had the number one seed, folks were consistently afraid of certain teams), but an easier matchup in the first round is preferred, no matter how masochistic you might be. I recall last year saying "Bring on Detroit!" and I probably would again this year, mostly due to a burning hatred for that team, but they aren't on the list of teams the Sharks could end up playing in the first round.
It all hinges on today's game against the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. Depending on what of four scenarios goes down, the Sharks could find themselves up against the Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators or the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Personally, I think the best option would be to face the Coyotes again. The Sharks have beat them in all but one contest this season and know they can get a win against them in any situation, in any arena. It may be sort of anti-climatic after taking them on in their last two games and then in the playoffs, but I'll take a slow, uneventful road to the cup if that's what it takes. The Los Angeles Kings would be next on my list, they've got injuries and again, the Sharks know they can beat them. Nashville can be hot or cold on any given day, and the Blackhawks are assuredly better than a seventh seed, as defending champions, they should be avoided heavily. Make the jump for some more.
The playoff scenarios are as follows, with thanks to Plank at Fear The Fin for the Nashville scenario.
- Chicago wins in regulation or overtime: Sharks play Phoenix
- Chicago wins in a shootout: Sharks play Nashville
- Chicago loses in regulation: Sharks play Los Angeles
- Chicago loses in extra time: Sharks play Chicago
So those are your four scenarios, so if you agree with the way I see things, you're rooting for a Chicago win in regulation or overtime. I feel like Nashville and Chicago need to be avoided under all circumstances, so let's all band together and either hope for a Chicago win in regulation/overtime or a Chicago loss in regulation, yeah? This will be the most confusing game to cheer during. "Yeah! They scored! Which is great unless Detroit scores and it goes to a shootout! In which case: boo! Boo that! Not cool."
The game will be aired on NBC at 9:30 a.m. pacific time, so be sure to watch and get your rooting on. Whatever it is you happen to be rooting for.