In the last few days a fair amount has been written and talked about in terms of the extraordinarily close race for the Pacific Division crown and the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. It appears to have come down to a race between four Pacific Division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks, fighting for three spots. Much has been made about the strength of the schedules of the teams involved, but let's take a look at the team's remaining games from a match-up perspective. Taking a look at the team's records versus their upcoming opponents seems to be relevant at this point in the season since the clubs involved have played each of their upcoming foes multiple times. There are certainly other factors in play, but for the sake of this piece we are sticking to just the head to head records.
One item that will be taken out of the equation is coaching changes. Two of the squads involved in games left on the schedule, the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues, made coaching changes during the season. Because coaching changes involve not only a personnel move, but also typically involve major changes in team strategies and usage of individual players, games played against the teams prior to the coaching changes are not included in the match-up records mentioned in this piece.
With all that said let's take a look at the the four teams' records against their upcoming opponents.
San Jose has gone 4-2-2 against the two teams left on their schedule. They are 3-0-1 against the Stars and 2-1-2 against the Kings.
The Stars have gone 5-7-0 against their final four opponents. They have records of 2-1 against the Vancouver Canucks, 1-3 against the Sharks, 0-2 against the Blues, and 2-1 against the Nashville Predators.
The Coyotes have a record of 1-10-1 against the three team they have left to play. The Desert Dogs have record of 1-1-1 against the the Wild and have 0-3 records against the Blue Jackets, Ducks, and Blues.
While the Sharks are the one team currently out of the playoffs, they are also the only team with a .500 record match-up wise. However, the Sharks have played the least amount of games against their opponents to date and the Stars and Kings are both just one result change away from .500. If anything, one could argue the Stars record looks the most impressive given who the opponents involved are. The Coyotes on the other hand look to have a whole heap of trouble in front of them. Will past performance be indicative of future results? We'll find out one way or the other in the next nine days.