In the midst of their longest road trip of the season, one that spans from Oct. 17-28 and makes its way through six cities, the San Jose Sharks were afforded a luxury Saturday night after their game with Nashville that they normally aren't accustomed to: they went home.
Normally during a long road trip, the team has to fend for itself, traveling from city to city in what can become a very tedious two-week stretch. But with the Sharks having four days off between their game last Saturday in Nashville and on Wednesday in Dallas, the team got some much needed rest and relaxation in their own homes.
"It's a little weird coming home," said Captain Patrick Marleau. "It seems like we should be playing a home game after being home after a road trip. It's definitely worth coming back and being able to see the family. We've recharged our batteries, now it's time to go win two games on the road."
Marleau's teammate Niko Dimitrakos is spending his time at home enjoying life in the GoldenState.
"It definitely feels good to come home," said Dimitrakos. "I'm actually staying with 'Smitty' (Mark Smith) right now, so it's good to have that home feel. You get to sleep in your own bed, eat some home cooked meals and be back in the sun."
The trip home also allows Head Coach Ron Wilson and his staff some time to look over game tape and implement a plan for getting Team Teal back on track. According to the bench boss, consistency out of every player is what's lacking.
"I've liked what I've seen in the last bunch of practices," said Wilson. "We have to put it all into the games though. We need consistent efforts from everybody, not just 16 or 17 guys. The way things are now, if somebody's off their game and makes a horrific mistake, you don't quite have the same way of recovering from it. You can't cheat out there anymore."
Their current record may not reflect it, but the Sharks are very close to snapping out of their current slide.
"Little details are all we're missing right now," said Marleau. "As soon as we start doing those, we're going to get the results we're looking for."
"We need to continue to work hard and shoot the puck on the net," added Dimitrakos. "We've got to start banging in some of the rebounds the goalies are leaving for us. Too many guys are skating away from the net and that's where you're going to score all the goals, so that's what we've been working on and trying to improve. We've also got to improve our special teams and tighten that end of our game up."
Being able to practice at their home practice facility, Logitech Ice at San Jose, afford the players an opportunity to get mentally prepared for a week that sees them taking on division rivals Dallas and Los Angeles, teams they will be meeting a combined 18 times this season, as well as the team that defeated them in the 2004 Western Conference Finals, the Calgary Flames.
"Sometimes the players start to long for home and you don't have the same attention from them as you get when you're at home," said Wilson. "Hopefully, being able to come back will help us out. We'll all have fresh clothes so at least we should smell better."
Center Marcel Goc currently holds the team lead in faceoff percentage with players over 70 chances (52.7%). The Sharks have gone 25 consecutive short handed shifts with Goc on the ice without allowing a power play goal. For the season, the team is 27-for-28 in killing penalties when Goc is on the ice.
San Jose is in Dallas for a Pacific Division showdown with the Stars on Wednesday.The contest begins at on FSN Bay Area and can be heard on 98.5 KFOX (pregame at ) and sjsharks.com.San Jose will then travel to Los Angeles for a Friday evening contest.
NEXT HOME GAME
San Jose returns to home ice Saturday night at for a rematch of the 2004 Western Conference Finals against Calgary.A limited amount of tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.