The San Jose Sharks clinched the Pacific Division for the fifth time in eight seasons in their last away game of the season.
Now the Sharks must wait, anticipating what team they may face in the playoffs.
The Sharks defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1, with goals coming from Rob Blake, and the rookie Jamie McGinn, who scored the game winning goal, his tenth goal of the season.
Logan Couture, another San Jose rookie, played an important part for the Sharks. Couture screened Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for Blake’s goal, and provided the primary assist for McGinn.
The Flames’ Rene Borque scored the only goal for the flames on the power play a few minutes into the third. The Flames are second to last in goals scored this season, only ahead of the Boston Bruins.
The Sharks still have two games left, both home games, versus the Vancouver Canucks and the Phoenix Coyotes, both playoff-bound teams. These games are vital to the Sharks, especially since their play will determine their playoff opponent.
San Jose will place in first or second in the Western Conference, depending on their play, as well as on the play of the currently second place Chicago Blackhawks. San Jose is first with 109 points, and Chicago is second with 107, but has a game in hand. If Chicago and San Jose tie, the Blackhawks get the tiebreaker for having more wins.
That said, San Jose will face either the seventh or eighth seed. Colorado, after beating the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout, have clinched 8th place. Seventh place, however, is up for grabs. The Sharks will either face the LA Kings, or the Detroit Red Wings.
Obviously, the Sharks want to win their remaining games and face the Avalanche, as feisty as they play. If the Sharks get the second seed, they run the risk of playing the dreaded Detroit Red Wings in the first round. This is an easy opportunity for the Sharks to once again get ousted in the first round.
The Detroit Red Wings are a skilled bunch, regardless of their seed. Detroit is a playoff-proven team and have a unnerving history of defeating the Sharks, especially on their own ice.
No matter who the Sharks play, the series will be tough. Low seeded teams are still strong teams, in case anyone has forgotten the Sharks’ playoff loss to the 8th seeded Ducks.
Here’s to hoping for anyone but the Red Wings.
Here’s to hoping that the Sharks bring home Lord Stanley.