Projecting the Pacific: What do the Sharks need to do to make the playoffs?
San Jose is in a good spot after the All-Star break. Now what?
The Sharks season has been a bit of a roller coaster. After a great start, San Jose faltered for a while before getting Logan Couture back and (seemingly) picking up steam ever since. The Sharks entered the All-Star Break with a convincing thumping of the Colorado Avalanche and pick things back up again on Tuesday against the very good Anaheim Ducks.
So with a 26-18-4 record and 56 points to their name, the Sharks are sitting in second place in the Pacific. That's seven points behind the Los Angeles Kings, who seem very likely to hold on to that lead over their final 33 games of the season. Meanwhile, the Sharks have the Coyotes sitting three points back in third, though San Jose has a game in hand. And then there's Anaheim, just a pair of points behind Arizona.
Based on the latest charts from our good friend @IneffectiveMath, we can see things aren't projected to go so great for the Coyotes over the rest of the season.
You can take a look at how he comes up with these numbers. He's got the cutoff for a playoff spot in the Pacific set at 88.9 points; rounding that up to 89 even that leaves the Sharks with 33 points to acquire of their final 34 games. So, even without a fancy modeling system it's pretty clear why San Jose has such great odds to make the playoffs, especially given how many of those contests are divisional games. I don't know if you've noticed, but the Pacific is kind of a dumpster fire right now.
That's the bottom 10 teams in the league in even strength fenwick-for percentage (score adjusted). You just might notice that four Pacific teams are hanging out in the bottom 10; so right, not great. It of course bears noting that the other three teams in the Pacific are in the top 10. So while the Sharks play the Ducks and Kings just once each, they play the rest of the division a whopping 14 times.
So while there's always room for weirdness in hockey (hello 2014-15 Calgary Flames!), the Sharks are in an excellent position to get back to the playoffs after missing the dance a season ago. A first round playoff matchup against the Ducks isn't exactly great, but it sure beats the more-or-less-annual seven game slaughterhouse series against the Kings.
To get there, San Jose has to take care of business against some mediocre competition and then we can get back to the hand-wringing greatness of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.