The playoffs are right around the corner.
For the majority of clubs in the NHL that means it’s time to make that final push.
With some 11 games left there are already two teams that have clinched playoff berths. Arguably, the league’s best teams are the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings.
Judging from their latest games they should be deadly against whichever clubs fall into the seventh and eighth seeds out in the Western Conference.
Detroit have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten with impressive wins over St. Louis (5-0) and Philadelphia. Granted they’ve had big slip-ups against Nashville and Columbus.
But for the most part the offense has been going on all cylinders and the defence has held firm with the likes of Chris Osgood, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg leading the way.
San Jose have not been quite as stellar going 4-5-1. Some of the more disappointing losses have been to Dallas and Vancouver. But they’ve looked good in wins against Minnesota and Anaheim.
It’s pertinent to note that Sharks are currently fighting the injury bug. Jeremy Roenick, Mike Grier and Claude Lemeiux have all been knocked out for the rest of the year this month. Before that star goalie Evgeni Nabokov had a lower body injury.
Now both clubs are prone to lose focus somewhat against lesser competition and their offenses can freeze up any given night.
On the other hand when the Red Wings and Sharks are on their game they’re tough to beat and have the calibre of goaltenders that can make all the difference in a tight game.
All of that should make every club from Columbus and the six teams on their heels very nervous.
Probably the bigger question facing Detroit and San Jose now is which of them will make it to the Stanley Cup and how healthy they’ll be come playoff time.