NHL Playoffs 2012: San Jose Sharks Take Pacific Lead, But Coyotes, Kings Have Easiest Road To Title

The San Jose Sharks are atop the Pacific Division, thanks to their decisive win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night and the Dallas Stars' loss to the Calgary Flames. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize how nuts the Pacific race is at this point; all you have to know is that San Jose was in the West's No. 9 position Monday and now they're in the No. 3 spot. Crazy, indeed.

That doesn't mean they're out of the woods, though. Not only could they still lose the division, but they could miss the playoffs altogether and it wouldn't take that much of a slide. San Jose has 88 points through 76 games, while No. 7 Dallas has 87 through 76 and No. 8 Phoenix has 87 through 77 games. No. 9 Los Angeles is also in the running for the division title despite sitting outside of the playoff picture at present. The Kings have 86 points through 76 games.

To make matters even more interesting, these teams all play each other a bunch of times in the final six-to-seven games of the regular season. Remaining schedules for the four teams in the Pacific race:

The Coyotes and Kings certainly have the easiest schedules of the bunch the rest of the way out. Los Angeles has four of their remaining six on the road, but they play just one team that's currently in playoff position in a home-and-home with San Jose at the end of the season.

Phoenix, meanwhile, plays three of their remaining five at home and have the luxury of matching up with the Wild and Ducks, plus what essentially amounts to a night off against the Blue Jackets. San Jose clearly has the toughest schedule on their road to a title despite currently holding the top spot with five games set against teams who are fighting for the same position they hold.

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