The San Jose Sharks are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, yet they wouldn't even have home-ice advantage if the Western Conference playoffs were to begin today.
They're hoping the addition of an All-Star defenseman can help change that.
One day after acquiring Brian Campbell from Buffalo prior to the league's trade deadline, San Jose will try to win its third straight as it continues its season-high eight-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
The Sharks (33-21-8) are among the top three teams in the league in fewest goals allowed, yet in the tightly packed playoff race out West, could find itself on the outside looking in.
With that in mind, general manager Doug Wilson completed a deal on Tuesday for Campbell, a two-time All-Star, who can also help on the power play. He has 18 of his 38 assists with the man advantage, and is among the league's top 10 defensemen with 43 points.
"Brian's a guy that gets the puck out of your zone quick," said Wilson. "He's a quarterback on the power play and he will complement our group really well."
San Jose sent forward Steve Bernier and a future seventh-round draft pick to the Sabres.
The Sharks' power play has been awful over its last six games, scoring just once in 30 tries with the man advantage.
Defensively, though, they've been excellent. San Jose has given up more than three goals just once in its last 11 games, and has allowed just one goal in each of its last two wins.
After dropping the first three games of their road trip, the Sharks swept both Pennsylvania teams, winning 3-1 at Philadelphia on Saturday and beating Pittsburgh 2-1 in a shootout a day later. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 46 of 48 shots faced over the weekend.
"You look at the standings and you see how important it is to get every single point possible, especially on this road trip," said Jeremy Roenick, who scored the game-winner in the shootout. "You can go from fifth to 11th in one bad week."
Columbus (29-26-9) returns home after a successful five-game road trip. The Blue Jackets went 3-2-0, beating the NHL-best Red Wings along with Eastern Conference powers Ottawa and Montreal.
|Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire authored his ninth shutout of the season last Saturday in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Sean Kilpatrick)
They closed the trip on Saturday with an impressive 3-0 win against the Canadiens. Pascal Leclaire stopped 31 shots for his league-leading ninth shutout.
"He's been the backbone of the team," said Rick Nash, who scored his team-leading 33rd goal. "If we want to be successful we need him playing his best, and that's what he's been doing all season for us."
Leclaire is 22-13-4, and his 2.12 goals-against average is among the top five in the league.
Nash and Nikolai Zherdev (24 goals) continue to provide most of the Blue Jackets' offense this season, and Nash has five goals and three assists in his last seven games. No one else has scored more than 11 goals.
Columbus also was active before the trade deadline, making deals with an eye toward the future. The Blue Jackets dealt center Sergei Fedorov, a six-time All-Star, to Washington for defenseman Theo Ruth, the Capitals' second-round pick in 2007.
Fedorov had nine goals in 50 games this season.
The Blue Jackets also traded defenseman Adam Foote to Colorado for a future first-round pick.
Columbus and San Jose have met three times this season, with the home team winning each contest.