Sharks-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: San Jose Sharks (14-9-11-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (9-20-4-3).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Home dominance has lifted the San Jose Sharks to the top of the Pacific
Division. Performing well on the road could show they really belong there.
The first-place Sharks are riding a five-game unbeaten streak as they take
on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The first stop on San Jose's trip should be the easiest, facing a last-place
Columbus team on the verge of matching the longest home winless streak in club
history. The Sharks' next three games are at Chicago, St. Louis and Vancouver.
San Jose has climbed the Western Conference standings thanks in part to its
current 11-game unbeaten streak at home. The Sharks have just three regulation
losses in 18 games at HP Pavilion this season.
However, they have won only once in their last six road games (1-3-1-1).
Despite those struggles, San Jose enters this contest unbeaten in its last
five (4-0-1), including Monday's 5-2 win over Nashville.
"(First place) doesn't mean anything at all," said the Sharks' Nils Ekman,
who had two goals and an assist. "We'd rather be in first than last, but it
just means we're going in the right direction. We're getting positive
publicity, and hopefully people will get behind the team and support us."
Continuing to support the Blue Jackets has to be getting tougher for that
Columbus, in last place in the Central Division, is winless in seven games
(0-5-1-1) at Nationwide Arena since Dec. 2, one short of the franchise record,
set during the 2001-02 season.
The Blue Jackets have lost eight of nine overall and are 1-8-1-2 in their
last 12. Monday's 3-2 loss to St. Louis was the Jackets' fifth straight at home
-- all by one goal.
"Nobody is pointing fingers, nobody is getting down on one another," said
Todd Marchant, who had a goal in Monday's loss. "We're just trying to get out
of it together as a group."