Sharks playoff outlook with four weeks left in season

Marcus White
NBC Sports BayArea
<p>How does that playoff picture look with less than a month until the postseason? Let's see where the Sharks, their closest rivals, and the Wild Card teams stand headed into the week...</p>

Sharks playoff outlook with four weeks left in season

How does that playoff picture look with less than a month until the postseason? Let's see where the Sharks, their closest rivals, and the Wild Card teams stand headed into the week...

It was around this time last year when the San Jose Sharks' season began to unravel. After beating the Buffalo Sabres in their 69th game of the season on Mar. 14, the Sharks would not win another game for two weeks. A seven-point lead atop the Pacific Division with 13 games to go turned into a six-point deficit at the end of the season, with San Jose in third place. 

On Monday night, the Sharks will play their 69th game of the season when they host the Detroit Red Wings at SAP Center, and there's even less breathing room than around this time last year. San Jose sits second in the Pacific, a point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and just two up on the Los Angeles Kings, who are out of the playoff picture entirely. 

How does that playoff picture look with less than a month until the postseason? Let's see where the Sharks, their closest rivals, and the Wild Card teams stand headed into the week. 

San Jose Sharks (Second in the Pacific, 81 points)

Games Remaining: 14

On the Docket: 3/12 vs Detroit, 3/14 at Edmonton, 3/16 at Calgary, 3/17 at Vancouver

Outlook: With three games against cellar-dwellers and one against a bubble team (Calgary), the Sharks can give new meaning to ‘controlling their own destiny' with a successful week. They're 7-2 in their last nine against non-playoff teams, and won two of three on their last swing through Western Canada, so the opportunity to solidify a playoff spot is there.

Anaheim Ducks (Third in the Pacific, 80 points)

Games Remaining: 13 

On the Docket: 3/12 vs St. Louis, 3/14 vs Vancouver, 3/16 vs Detroit, 3/18 vs New Jersey

Outlook: The Ducks are disadvantaged having played one more game than the Sharks, but begin a four-game homestand on Monday. Anaheim's lost two in a row, but the homestand may be what it needs to turn things around, with all but one game coming against teams on the outside looking in.

Dallas Stars (First Wild Card, 82 points)

Games Remaining: 13

On the Docket: 3/13 at Montreal, 3/14 at Toronto, 3/16 at Ottawa, 3/18 at Winnipeg

Outlook: The Sharks don't yet have to worry about catching and/or passing the Stars, but could if they slip out of the Pacific's playoff spots. Dallas, in the midst of a season-long six-game road trip, has a brutal schedule over the next seven days. Games against two of the league's six-best teams (Winnipeg, Toronto) could dim the Stars' chances, and create openings for those chasing them.

Colorado Avalanche (Second Wild Card, 80 points)

Games Remaining: 14

On the Docket: 3/13 at Minnesota, 3/15 at St. Louis, 3/16 vs Nashville, 3/18 vs Detroit

Outlook: The Avalanche have picked up points in all but two of 11 games (5-2-4) since Nathan MacKinnon's return, but have a pretty difficult slate this week. San Jose is just a point clear of Colorado, and has three fewer ROW (32). If the Avalanche can stay afloat and the Sharks fade, the Wild Card could quickly appear out of reach.

Los Angeles Kings (Fourth in the Pacific/Ninth in the West, 79 points)

Games Remaining: 14

On the Docket: 3/12 vs Vancouver, 3/13 at Arizona, 3/15 vs Detroit, 3/17 vs New Jersey

Outlook: The Kings are currently on the outside looking in, but will play the league's worst, fourth-worst, and sixth-worst teams this week. However, Arizona's played better lately, and the Devils are also fighting for their playoff lives, so the schedule isn't as rosy as it appears at first glance. They'll need all the wins they can get to keep pace. 

Calgary Flames (Fifth in the Pacific/10th in the West, 78 points)

Games Remaining: 11

On the Docket: 3/13 vs Edmonton, 3/16 vs San Jose, 3/18 at Vegas 

Outlook:The Flames are still burning, but may not for much longer after Sunday's loss to the New York Islanders. With the least amount of games remaining, Calgary will need a lot of help to climb over three teams in the Pacific and two in the Wild Card. Beating the Pacific's top two teams this week would add plenty of oxygen, though.

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