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Sharks vs. Oilers Preview: San Jose and Edmonton fight for first place

Yep, literally.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a year makes. The Sharks host the Oilers for the first time this season tonight at 7:30 p.m. on CSN-California with the winner skating with first place in the Pacific. If that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season, that’s because we underestimated the volatility of the division and the growth of Edmonton under Todd McLellan over the offseason.

Yes, the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade looked bad at the time (and still looks bad from where I sit) but the Oilers are a better team now than they were a year ago in a division that got worse. Meanwhile the Sharks are better than they were at this time last year, recent lineup strangeness notwithstanding.

So now San Jose welcomes former head coach McLellan and the majority of the old coaching staff back to the Shark Tank yet again with a little healthy revenge on everyone’s mind. A pair of graves have been dug with an eye on bragging rights and a division lead as Christmas looms.