Sharks Ice Another Division Title

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Sharks muscled their way to another division title.

    It might feel like Groundhog Day, but Sharks fans will still take it.

    The Sharks put their third consecutive NHL Pacific Division title on ice Tuesday night, extinguishing the Calgary Flames' playoff hopes on Calgary's own ice with a 2-1 win. Along with that division title, the Sharks remain in the lead for the top seed in the Western Conference with two games remaining.

    But how much confidence can fans have, given that the Sharks ran away with both the Division and the Conference last season, only to duck out of the playoffs early against the West's lowest-seeded team?

    "We have two games left, and we're going to compete as hard as we possibly can to win them," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. "Then at the end of the season, we'll open up the newspaper and see where we stand and see who we play. There's nothing else we can do."

    But fans can open a newspaper or web browser today, and we see the Sharks haven't quite clinched the Western Conference yet. The Chicago Blackhawks lie in wait two points behind, and they still have three games left in which to make up those points.

    Which could leave the Sharks as the West's second seed, facing a possible first-round match up with the playoff-tested Detroit Red Wings. And how bad would that be?

    "Nobody wants to face the hottest team in the NHL as the season ends," writes the Mercury News' hockey guru David Pollak. "And that happens to be the Red Wings."

    The Red Wings are also the team who bounced the Sharks in 2007, early in the Sharks' current division title run. The Red Wings are probably the Sharks' worst first-round playoff match up possibility.

    Kind of makes you want to see your shadow and go back underground for about six weeks.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would rather spend six weeks underground than six weeks under Tim Lincecum's hat.