Living on a Prayer
By hockey standards the San Jose Sharks still need a minor miracle to make the postseason. They are currently five points back of the final Wild Card spot held by the Winnipeg Jets heading into Thursday’s action. However, a Sharks team that had been floundering in recent weeks could sneak their way in by winning all five of their remaining games. Here are where things currently stand between the Jets, Kings (9th) and Sharks (10th) in the conference:
Jets 90 points
Kings 88 points
Sharks 85 points
In order for the Sharks to leapfrog both Winnipeg and Los Angeles they need to go 5-0 and beat the Kings in regulation in game 82. Their other four games are a home and home against Arizona, home game vs Dallas and a road game vs Edmonton. Those are four very winnable games. If the Sharks can manage to do this, (they have picked up seven of the last eight possible points in their past four games), then things hypothetically get very interesting. That would put the Sharks at 95 points.
The Sharks own the tie breaker of ROW (regulation or overtime wins) over the Jets. So if they tie at 95 points, San Jose would be the higher seed. So Winnipeg can finish as strong as 2-2-1 in their final five games and the Sharks would have the tie breaker. This is very, very possible. The Jets are struggling as of late, having lost three of their past four games. Their two remaining home contests are tough games against Vancouver and Calgary, no easy points there. Then they have an even tougher road trip where they have to play in Minnesota and St. Louis back-to-back as well as a game in the high mountain air of Colorado. It is very conceivable that Winnipeg only manages five points or fewer in these final five.
Now the Kings on the other hand have an easier schedule than the Jets, but are currently just three points up on San Jose. If the Sharks manage to beat LA in regulation that final game of the season, then they will have needed the Kings to have gone no better than 3-1-1 in their other five remaining games. Now it is much less clear between the Kings and the Sharks in terms of the ROW tie breaker. That tiebreaker could go either way at this point. Now LA’s final five games are at home against Edmonton and Colorado, and a three game road trip against Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. Chances are LA will pick up the six points available against the Oilers and Avalanche, but Calgary still might be pushing to clinch the final seed in the Pacific. That could be a loss for the Kings as could the game in Vancouver. Not to mention there is such a thing as any given Sunday in hockey. A bad team can beat a good team. Perhaps the Kings lose to Edmonton or Colorado (the game in Oil country is the second of back-to-backs in Canada). Of course the same can be said about the Sharks losing to the “easier” teams on their schedule. However, this is all speculation on what would need to happen assuming the Sharks do run the table.
It is an absolute long shot, no question about it. However, it is not as if the Sharks need to go 5-0 and the two teams they’re chasing have to both go 0-5-0. That would be as close to impossible as it gets without being mathematically eliminated at this point in the season. Going 5-0 with the two competitors going 3-2 and 2-3? Hey stranger things have happened, John Scott has scored three goals this season.