The San Jose Sharks regular season is winding down with just 10 contests remaining before the playoff action begins. While the current trip has not been up to par by anyone’s standards, there is no question the men in teal have a fairly strong recent history to look back on to find where they lost their way. Up until their recent hiccup, they were the Western Conference’s top club and they had been so for the majority of the season. That can’t happen for the better part of 60 games without a lot of the right pieces working in the same direction.
If the right tweaks are made, and old habits are found, it would not be an unimaginable step to see the Sharks back on top of the Pacific Division and the Western Conference before the season concludes. Currently the Sharks trail Chicago and Phoenix by a single point in the race for the West’s top spot and Phoenix by that same single point in the division race.
That does not mean the change is as easy as flipping on a switch, but if the right work is put in, the current stumble could be what forces every loose end to be tied up when the postseason begins.
Just as important as where San Jose finishes, the club is always concerned about how they are playing and there is no doubt finding the game from two months ago is the preference as that version of the Sharks was a very formidable team.
“We need to get back to the details that worked for us all year,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson.
There are reasons why the club has lost six straight, but they know what needs to be adjusted and will spend the next 10 games figuring out how to get their game back.
“We’ve identified the areas we let slip and what we are going to do,” said Wilson. “We know what works and if we get away from those details, we won’t have the success. We’re looking forward to getting to the top of our game and that is what we are focused on.”
The way the Coyotes have surged in the rankings, and how they have done it, is an example of what the Sharks can focus on. The division’s new leaders have simply found a way each and every night they take to the ice and leave nothing on the table.
Slides can and do happen in hockey, even to the best of clubs. Last year the Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves simply fighting for a playoff spot at one point in the season before they harnessed the troops in the right direction. Detroit has also run into regular season speed bumps in times when they won the Cup.
Effort will be required from everyone, from the forwards to the blueliners to the netminders, but the good news is there is more than ample time to finish the repairs.
One area that will benefit the team is having a full compliment of players accessible when the practice time is available. Considering Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan had to rest his Olympians quite a bit upon their return, and that the club will have played 12 of their last 17 on the road (following tonight’s Minnesota contest), San Jose has had very little time to actually practice as a group. The club will take advantage of the remaining opportunities whenever they can.
“We know we can be very successful when we play the way the coaching staff wants us to play,” said Wilson.
Beginning with Tuesday at Minnesota, the Sharks have five home games and five road games left to close the regular season. The current trip will wrap up in Minnesota before the Sharks return home for three games in four nights against Dallas, Vancouver and Colorado. Then it’s back on the road for four with Dallas, Minnesota, Colorado and Calgary, before finishing off the regular season at HP Pavilion against Vancouver and Phoenix.
It should be a fun ride the last 10 games with such tight races for the division and conference titles, but for the Sharks players and coaches, they will simply focus on themselves, get everything adjusted that they can, and then look to roll into the postseason.
Tuesday’s telecast may be a national broadcast by Versus, but Sharks fans will notice a familiar sound when the lights go on. Randy Hahn has been chosen to handle the play-by-play duties for the network, adding a nice touch for Sharks fans.
JR. SHARKS PRODUCT
Casey Wellman plays for the Minnesota Wild, but he is a product of the Jr. Sharks system. The Brentwood native was signed when his college season ended and has now played in two games for the Wild, earning an assist. It will mark the first game where the entire Bay Area can see the former Jr. Sharks star.
Place a deposit for season tickets or a sharkpak next year and you can get playoff tickets this year. Click here for details.
The Sharks will visit Minnesota Tuesday night and the contest will be on Versus, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.