Pacific Is Most Interesting Division Race in Season’s Final Days

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 30, 2017 3:07 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017 3:07 PM UTC

Winning your division in the NBA means nothing. In the NHL, it’s very important as it guarantees home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. The most intriguing division race in the NHL’s final days is the Pacific.

As of March 30, just five points separate the top four teams in the NHL’s Pacific Division. The Anaheim Ducks are at 95 points, the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers at 93 and the Calgary Flames at 90. The Ducks, Sharks and Oilers have clinched playoff spots. The Flames hold down the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Pacific Division winner is going to host the top wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs because the Chicago Blackhawks are going to win the Central Division and finish with the most points in the West. Thus the Hawks will host the second wild-card team in the first round.

Obviously the simplest way to win a division is to finish with the most points. If teams tie for the number of total points, the first tiebreaker is most regulation and overtime wins (ROW), so eliminate shootout wins. The second tiebreaker is points in head-to-head games. If teams are still tied after that, the club with the greatest positive differential between goals scored and goals allowed is the winner.

The Flames are +7000 on 5Dimes NHL odds to win the Pacific. That’s unlikely because Calgary has played one more game as it is than the Ducks, Sharks and Oilers.

Anaheim is the -195 NHL betting favorite to win the Pacific Division for a fifth straight season. As of March 30, the Ducks’ remaining schedule is: at Jets, at Oilers, at Flames, vs. Flames, vs. Blackhawks, vs. Kings.

Defending Western Conference champion San Jose is +300 to win the Pacific. The Sharks would win the first tiebreaker over every other division team right now in ROW as they have 41. The Ducks are two back in ROW – Anaheim leads the Pacific with 11 overtime losses -- and the Oilers three behind. San Jose’s remaining schedule is: at Oilers, at Flames, at Canucks, vs. Canucks, vs. Oilers, vs. Flames. So an all-Canadian finish.

Edmonton is in the playoffs for the first time in 11 years led by Hart Trophy candidate Connor McDavid. The Oilers are +515 to win the division. Their remaining schedule is: vs. Sharks, vs. Ducks, at Kings, at Sharks, at Canucks, vs. Canucks.

Interesting that none of the Ducks, Sharks and Oilers play the Pacific’s worst team, the Coyotes, the rest of the way but do face everyone else in the division. Anaheim would appear to have the toughest schedule left, so the pick here is San Jose because of that ROW tiebreaker.

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