The Sharks are three points back with three games to go. Even winning head-to-head in regulation Wednesday and wins on back-to-back games Friday and Saturday would require the Ducks to play .500 hockey in their final two games to keep the 2013 Pacific Division champions from repeating.
San Jose only has itself to blame for falling short. Getting even one more point each against the Nashville Predators (0-3-0), Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0) and Buffalo Sabres (0-1-1)—three teams among the worst 10 in the NHL—would have doubled the chance of winning the Stanley Cup, even if the latest odds offered by outlets like Bovada still have the team the fifth-most likely winner.
Anaheim's two remaining games are Saturday and Sunday. First is a trip across town to play the Los Angeles Kings—a team that already has nothing to play for but a possible home-ice advantage against the Minnesota Wild.
Moreover, that only comes up if the Pacific Division winner has the best record in the Western Conference. Otherwise the teams could only meet in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, when home-ice advantage goes to the higher seed rather than the team with the better record.
Even that might not even be up in the air for the Kings by Saturday. If it is, the Ducks host the Colorado Avalanche that will probably only be playing for home-ice advantage in a potential matchup with the Sharks, which also could not happen unless both teams reach the Western Conference finals.
If San Jose is still in the hunt for the Pacific Division, Anaheim will need that home win more than Colorado needs points. Thus, Los Angeles is almost certain to be waiting in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs—the first of the four predicted opponents that would be in the way, detailed below...