March 25, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; /St. Louis Blues right wing Jamie Langenbrunner (15) shields Phoenix Coyotes left wing Lauri Korpikoski (28) from the puck in the third period at Jobing.com. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
If the Coyotes lose in regulation the winner of San Jose-Los Angeles tomorrow will decide the division.
If the Coyotes do anything else (win in any situation or lose in extra time) then the Division will be up for grabs and playoff seedings will be a mess until 10:30 PM Saturday night.
San Jose can finish in either 3rd, 7th, or 8th place. They can play either the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, or the Vancouver Canucks. Obviously starting a playoff series at home by winning the Pacific is in the team's best interest, as their struggles on the road over the past few months are well chronicled (even if I think that goes out the window in five days).
Furthermore, the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks are probably the last two teams the Sharks want to play in the first round. I understand that the injury to Daniel Sedin injects some drama into the situation, but they've consistently had the Sharks and Antti Niemi's number over the past two seasons even if those results have been the product of one-goal games and (painfully) featured some bounces that could have turned the tides the other way.
I'm looking at you, Monsieur Stanchion.
Also, it should be noted that if I'm hitching my horse to any team's chances of making the Western Conference Finals it is the St. Louis Blues. Putting that matchup off as long as possible is in the Sharks interest if they want the best opportunity to go deep.
It's not like the road is easy going through Chicago or Detroit-- they're both strong possession teams and have a bevy of weapons that could cause the Sharks problems. Chicago especially, just because I think they match up better against the Sharks and have had a really strong season despite getting below-average goaltending for the majority of it. And Detroit is Detroit. But I don't think it's unreasonable to say winning the Pacific gives them the best shot in the opening round.
So yeah. A lot to be decided in these next 36 hours, and Phoenix's game tonight is definitely relevant.
Puck drops in a few.