“Road warriors” would be an understated nickname for the San Jose Sharks this season. Not only do they possess the top road record in the NHL (tied with Ottawa) at 13-3-2, they have recorded several franchise marks as well.
San Jose has recorded at least one point in 10 consecutive road contests, tying a franchise record twice previously accomplished, most recently in 2007 when the club went 8-0-2 from March 4-22. Point-wise, the Sharks have done better this time around, winning nine of the 10 games, with the only point missing occurring in a shootout loss in Anaheim. That is an amazing 19 of 20 points taken without the benefit of the home crowd.
For as much as they’ve struggled at HP Pavilion, the Sharks are perfectly at home on the road.
“We seem to settle down and play our game,” said defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. “We do the little things right -- chipping pucks in and getting pucks out when we have to. We seem to make better decisions and get all the bounces. It’s tough to explain.”
Team Teal is also riding a seven-game road winning streak which eclipses the previous best of six games from Nov. 30- Dec. 19, 2001.
During the current 10-game stretch, Pacific Division-leading Dallas has been victimized three times, Los Angeles and Phoenix twice, Anaheim and Colorado once, plus the overtime loss to the Ducks. All but one of the contests has come at the expense of a Pacific Division rival.
“Division games are huge,” said Ehrhoff. “They are four-point games and we have to win those.”
San Jose has three more games on the current trip as they look to continue their streak. The first stop is in St. Louis Friday night, then Nashville on Saturday followed by a New Year’s Eve contest at Minnesota.
Defense has been the name of the game during the stretch as Team Teal has surrendered two or less regulation goals in all but one contest, a 4-3 shootout win in Dallas. In four of the games, the Sharks have allowed just one goal or less.
“We want to play good defense,” said Ehrhoff. “There is a lot of pride involved and everybody wants to help. The forwards want to help the D and the D wants to help the goalie.”
This year, the Sharks have helped goaltender Evgeni Nabokov the most by allowing the second fewest shots in the League. Much of that can be attributed to players sacrificing themselves to block attempted shots, thereby eliminating any scoring opportunity.
“We block a lot of shots and eliminate shots from the scoring area,” said Ehrhoff. “On the road, we’ve had all-around good efforts.”
Then Nabokov has been there to keep the goals-against average to a paltry 1.40 in the past 10 games.
“He’s been fantastic,” said Ehrhoff. “He’s made the stops when he’s needed to make them.”
As one of the NHL’s top road clubs for two years running, the Sharks know that strong home clubs like St. Louis, Nashville and Minnesota will be paying extra attention to San Jose.
“The word has been out a while,” said Ehrhoff. “Last year, we were really good on the road. We just have to play our game.”
Then when they return to San Jose, they hope to cure their home woes.
“It won’t be easy, but we’ve got to find a way to get the job done,” said Ehrhoff.
NEXT GAME The Sharks will visit St. Louis Friday in a 5 p.m. start that will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.