In preparation for the Sharks' road game against the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow, it's time for another edition of Keeping Tabs, where we take a close look at our closest enemies - the rest of the Pacific Division.
Following the analysis, take a gander at our cocksure section entitled "If the playoffs started today," and let us know who you'd root for in each scenario. I've already added my thoughts - dissent is most certainly welcome.
Anaheim Ducks (17-11-3, 2nd in Pacific, 5th in Western Conf.)
The Quackers rebounded from suffering their first shutout of the season at the hands of San Jose to send the Minnesota Wild to their fifth straight loss tonight. Despite winning 3 of their last 5 games, the Ducks (now 5th in the Western Conference, behind Chicago - !) are still 13 points behind San Jose, with 2 more games played. The clubs don't meet again until March 15 at the Honda Center.
Ryan Getzlaf currently leads his team in points with 35 (including 12 goals). Teemu Selanne has the most goals at 14.
Anaheim leads the league in penalty minutes, with 610 after tonight.
Trivia time - name the only Duck without penalty minutes. (You're on the honor system - post your answers in the comments)
UPDATE - Ducks trade Brian Sutherby to Dallas in exchange for rights to David McIntyre (and a conditional draft pick).
Dallas Stars (11-14-4, 5th in Pacific, 15th in Western Conf.)
Oh boy, here we go - Sean Avery is officially an ex-Dallas Star. Any teams want Dallas' sloppy seconds?
Didn't think so.
The news gets better for Dallas - despite being dead last in the Western Conference with 26 points, they're still 4 points ahead of the Thrashers, Islanders and Lightning in the East! As Borat would say, "Great success!"
Actually, there's some VERY good news for both Dallas AND San Jose - the Stars smoked the Detroit Red Wings two nights ago, 3-1. Teal Town temporarily salutes you, Tippett and co. - though we can't promise we won't boo during the National Anthem.
Mike Ribeiro leads his Stars in points with 22, while Loui Eriksson leads in goals, with 12.
Bad news for the Stars on the injury front - Zubov, Ott and Lehtinen are still out, as is Stephane Robidas (oral surgery to fix a broken jaw, as of Dec. 12).
The Sharks next face the Stars on December 29 at the American Airlines Center.
In unrelated news, Mr. K. needs a road trip buddy for that game, and the Blues vs. Sharks game on the 27th - any takers?
UPDATE - See under Anaheim.
Los Angeles Kings (13-12-4, 4th in Pacific, 11th in Western Conf.)
The Kings have won 3 of their last 4 games, but their upcoming week doesn't exactly look easy. Besides their home game against San Jose, the Kings host the New York Rangers before heading to Buffalo and Detroit for back-to-back games. Similarly to the situation with Dallas, Teal Town throws its considerable girth behind our SoCal brethren (did I really just type that?) for that matchup with the Wings.
Something for San Jose to consider - the Kings' have the 10th best power play conversion rate in the NHL. For comparison, the Sharks are in 7th place.
Anze Kopitar leads his team with 25 points, while Alexander Frolov leads the Kings in goals, with 13.
After tomorrow night's visit to the Staples Center, the Sharks don't face the Kings again until February 19 at the HP Pavilion.
Phoenix Coyotes (14-13-3, 3rd in Pacific, 9th in Western Conf.)
The Great One's team has won just 2 of their last 5 games, after winning 4 of their previous 5. They managed to grab a point in their overtime loss at home against Detroit on Saturday night.
Keep an eye out for Joakim Lindstrom - after being recalled from the Coyotes' AHL affiliate in San Antonio, he scored 2 goals and an assist in 3 games.
Phoenix winger Brian McGrattan recently volunteered to enter the NHL's substance abuse program. Get the help you need, brutha.
Shane Doan leads the Yotes in both points (29) and goals (14).
The Sharks host the Coyotes in the clubs' next meeting on January 29.
LASTLY - "If the playoffs started today..."
- San Jose (1) would face Minnesota (8) - and we'd note the irony of meeting (and hopefully beating) Owen Nolan in the first round two years in a row.
- Detroit (2) would face Nashville (7) - and Dan Ellis will once again give Detroit its biggest challenge... until WE do, that is.
- Vancouver (3) would face Calgary (6) - and Sharks fans will find themselves in the awkward position of actually rooting FOR the Flames (because really, who WOULDN'T take the Kiprusoff-sieve over Luongo?).
- Chicago (4) would face Anaheim (5) - and Sharks fans will vomit their free Round Table pizzas en masse after realizing that the strategic course of action is to pull for the Quackers.