Four games into San Jose's season long six-game road trip, things have not gone as planned.After taking a point from Detroit in the opener, Team Teal has struggled to find points, coming up blank in Minnesota, Columbus and Nashville.
While there are some negatives associated with not winning in the past four contests, the Sharks have displayed some strong flashes on the road.They held Detroit to just two goals in regulation, were tied with Minnesota at one after 40 minutes and were also tied with Nashville at one as the third began.Had San Jose received a timely goal at any point during the third period of any recent road contest, the outcome could easily have changed.
"We played well and had some chances, but we didn't score," said Milan Michalek."The guys are working hard.I think we played simpler in Nashville and did what we're supposed to do."
There is one basic matter the Sharks still hope to improve on - going to the net.
"We have to drive to the net and use our speed," said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson."You have to commit to going and staying in front of the net.The only battle is to get to the position."
"We have to go to the net to score," said Michalek.
When San Jose has aimed for the high traffic areas, they have found results. Fan will remember the initial home stand as goals were being scored after three and four attempts.Scott Thornton's power play goal in Columbus also saw Brad Stuart and Jonathan Cheechoo fighting for space in the slot.
"We did some things in practice to create more opportunities and goals that we weren't doing," said Alyn McCauley."We need more second chances."
Wilson knows that all hands must be on board for his formula to be successful - not just one, two or 15 players performing their roles.
"Everyone has to be doing it at one time," said Wilson."At times, not everybody is contributing to backside pressure.When a player feels the pressure from behind and is rushed, then it allows the defenseman to be more aggressive.We have not been consistent enough at it."
That could mean a few changes if things don't change.
"I don't want to wait on anyone anymore," said Wilson.
In the NHL, there is a fine line between winning and losing, so the current three-game slide without earning a point can quickly be rectified with some strong play which utilizes the Sharks talents.
"We know we did a lot of good things," said McCauley."Detroit is incredibly tough to take a point out of.They just got the extra point in OT.In Minnesota, we were all over them and controlling play.In Columbus, we may have felt sorry for ourselves.In three of four games, we played well."
San Jose has had their share of bad luck, unofficially leading the league in goal posts hit.
"Right now we can't buy them, but then maybe we'll get two ugly goals at a big time," said Wilson.
Scott Parker has skated and could be nearing a return.
"He is going to travel with us as far as I know," said Wilson."He stayed on the ice for nearly an hour today."
Patrick Marleau had the day off primarily due to some minor bumps and bruises.
"He'll be out there tomorrow," said Wilson.
Evgeni Nabokov also remained off the ice to rest the upper body soreness he suffered in Columbus.
"He may even be skating in a day or so and we'll go from there," said Wilson.
THRASHERS BOULTEN SUSPEDED
Atlanta Thrashers forward Eric Boulton has been suspended for six games, and based on his average annual salary, Boulton will forfeit $15,306.12.The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
"It is clear Mr. Boulton's actions were careless and caused injury to his opponent," said NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. "There is no circumstance that can justify this type of action."
Boulton was assessed a major penalty for delivering an elbow to the head of TampaBay player Paul Ranger at of the third period.
San Jose will travel to Dallas after practice tomorrow 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.