At the beginning of the season, fans and pundits saw the Pacific Division to be Edmonton’s to lose. Of course, that has not turned out the way they thought. Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected the Vegas Golden Knights to achieve success so quickly. As it stands now, Vegas has the Pacific Division in hand. With an eight-point lead, the Golden Knights seem poised to win the division in their first season.
Not so fast my friend. San Jose may have something to say about that. Last night the Sharks extinguished the Calgary Flames with a final score of 7-4. Outside of two games against the Knights and one against the Nashville Predators, the Sharks’ schedule is favorable. Six games are on home ice and four are against teams out of the playoffs. However, their last five are brutal: at Nashville, at Vegas, Dallas, Colorado, Minnesota. Five contenders.
In order to overtake the Knights, the Sharks must win five more games than Vegas. That will be a tough challenge. Two of those wins – and not in overtime – must be against Vegas. If not, any chance of winning the Pacific is over.
But, the Sharks will remain in the division’s second spot, though it is a three-point lead over Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Kings have 8 games against playoff contenders, including one at Anaheim. They also face Dallas, Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Colorado. Tough road to make a great run. Anaheim’s schedule is not much better, though they do have the Oilers, Canuck, and Coyotes left.
There is a chance Calgary makes it into the Wild Card, but it does not look great. Currently, they are 7 points out in the division and their schedule does not help. Ten games remain. Two are against the Coyotes, and two are against Vegas. Add in Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Columbus and Winnipeg and you see why I have little confidence in the Flames chances.
Locks: Vegas, San Jose
Last in: Los Angeles
First out: Anaheim