- Anaheim (4) – The Ducks should cruise to a top seed if they can avoid being beaten to death by John Scott.
- Los Angeles (1) – Stumbled out of the gate a tad but nothing a six-game win streak couldn’t fix.
- Montreal (12) – And that’s how you take advantage of a slow Boston start.
- Minnesota (11) – What did the Avalanche do to deserve those complete and utter ass-kickings?
- Washington (19) – A little Barry Trotz goes a long way.
- New York Islanders (15) – An excellent start despite putrid goaltending.
- Nashville (23) – Somehow I feel they won’t hold onto the Central lead for long. Still a nice start, though.
- Tampa Bay (9) – No surprises here. Everyone looks about as good as they should.
- Chicago (2) – If Crawford’s playing this well throughout, they’re unstoppable.
- Dallas (8) – Seguin’s an absolute monster but they need to defend better
- New Jersey (14) – They look solid despite a mediocre start for Schneider.
- Detroit (18) – Zetterberg with 10 points in eight games, he’s back.
- Calgary (29) – They once again steadfastly refuse to draft in the top three.
- Ottawa (20) – Anderson and Lehner playing like ’91 Belfour/Hasek tandem.
- Boston (3) – No Chara, no Boychuk. Can I interest you in a Tyler Myers contract?
- Pittsburgh (7) – They’ll be fine, but my God Craig Adams is terrible.
- San Jose (6) – The seven-game losing streak to Buffalo is unbelievably strange.
- Vancouver (21) – Still don’t understand why they signed Miller.
- Columbus (13) – Ryan Johansen doesn’t look too rusty.
- Philadelphia (17) – I just can’t believe the Steve Mason/Ray Emery platoon looks bad.
- New York Rangers (10) – Rick Nash is getting all that positive regression out of the way before the playoffs start.
- St. Louis (5) – T.J. Oshie and Steve Ott with a matching one point, no goals through seven games.
- Arizona (24) – Try rebranding yourselves as a team that doesn’t play in a desert of apathy.
- Florida (26) – Dangerously close to being outscored by Corey Perry.
- Edmonton (22) – They’re playing less terrible of late.
- Toronto (25) – Shanahan, Dubas, Extra Skater and co. have their work cut out for them.
- Colorado (16) – They can’t be this bad all year, right?
- Winnipeg (27) – It take eight games for them to fall into last place. Smart money is on them not climbing out.
- Buffalo (30) – One goal in four games and they aren’t even last overall.
- Carolina (28) – Every team in the NHL has multiple wins, except for the winless ‘Canes.
[caption id=”attachment_1483” align=”alignnone” width=”300”] San Jose Sharks. (Photo taken by Ed Senter)[/caption]
It’s fairly common knowledge for hockey fans that the Red Wings have made the playoffs an incredible 23 years in a row. However, the team with the second-longest streak (and perhaps will become the longest if Detroit falls off this year) isn’t often discussed in such a reverent manner.
The San Jose Sharks have played into the postseason 10 years in a row and 15 of the past 16 years. They’re likely to do it again this season. They have at least one future Hall of Famer (Thornton) and possibly another in Patrick Marleau.
Yet, somehow, the Sharks have not had their day in the playoffs yet. Only three of those 15 trips to the playoffs have ended with a conference finals appearance. They’ve never been to the Stanley Cup. There’s been some heartbreak — they’ve lost seven-game series to Los Angeles the past two seasons (including blowing a 3-0 lead last season).
Now, due to a strange offseason, it appears San Jose’s window might be closing. Thornton and Marleau are both 35, they won’t be around forever. Yet, the front office did very little to give them an edge in the Western Conference.
After last year’s meltdown, the front office signed famed face punchers Mike Brown and John Scott to man the bottom lines. The team has very little forward or defensive depth. Annti Niemi is an average goalie on his best days. That doesn’t bode well for a postseason where they may have to take on a combination of Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis, Chicago and Dallas.
They’re still a playoff team, of course. Joe Pavelski is in his prime, Logan Couture is very good, Brent Burns looks great this year, Marc-Edouard Vlasic should be on the all-underrated team for defensemen and Tomas Hertl looks like a budding star. But with the goaltending and depth issues that weren’t addressed in the offseason, it’s hard to see them being a serious contender for their first ever Western Conference championship.