With the exception of the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 1962 expansion New York Mets, the home team wins most of the time.
This year’s San Jose Sharks are near perfect at home as they only have two overtime losses in their 21 games at HP Pavilion. Besides that, they’re one of the National Hockey League’s top clubs away from home.
Only the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings have more road points than San Jose’s 23. Philadelphia also has 23 points, but they’ve played three more away games.
If the Sharks win five straight road games – no easy task – they’d match Boston and Detroit’s point totals with the same amount of games played and pass the Penguins, who have one more point with three extra road games played.
San Jose begins a three-game Western Canadian road trip tomorrow night in Calgary. The Sharks ended 2008 with a trio of road games, winning one and losing two in overtime. They’ll start this trip 10-4-3 away from Silicon Valley. They’ve captured 23 of a possible 34 points on the road.
As has been the case all season, the Sharks don’t care about the record. They’re more concerned about their performance.
“We need to challenge ourselves on the road,” defenseman Dan Boyle
said. “We could say we took four of six points on the last trip, but good teams don’t look at it like that. We look at it like we won one of three.”
By the time San Jose plays its last road game on Saturday in Vancouver, the Sharks will hit the halfway point of the season. By Saturday, San Jose would’ve played 21 games at home and 20 on the road.
“The schedule was kind to us,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “We played a lot at home. Now we’ve got to go and make up those games. A trip to Canada isn’t easy, but maybe that’s what we need right now. Going into Calgary, they’re going to be a very hungry team. They’re going to want to show us what they’re about. They’ve been a very successful team lately. You follow that up with a trip to Edmonton and Vancouver and not a single night’s easy. If we put together a so-so effort, we won’t come away with what we want to do.”
“We look at how we play and if we do what we say before the game, we will be fine,” defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. “The last couple of road games, we haven’t accomplished what we want.”
“We can play better and we’re using every day to improve how we play,” defenseman Brad Lukowich said. “If you become content just being good on the road, that can sneak into your home game. We feel we’ve left some points out on the road and let teams like Boston and Detroit hang with us.”
According to McLellan, it’s all about being consistent.
“We have to consistently push for a full 60 minutes and not wait to be pushed or to fall behind,” he said.
“We’ve got to be committed,” Lukowich said. “If we play to our abilities and lose, the pill is a little easier to swallow. As a whole, everyone needs to be a little better. We can’t bend away from the game plan.”
THE WORCESTER-SAN JOSE CONNECTION
The Sharks continue to make good use of their top development club in Worcester. San Jose recalled right wing Brad Staubitz on Monday for third time with the big club. Part of the reason for the call-up was the recent absence of left wing Jody Shelley, who didn’t practice on Monday, but was expected to travel with the club.
“He’s played well in Worcester and our fourth line is thin with Jody banged up,” McLellan said of Staubitz. “He’ll replace that element. He gave us a little energy when he came up (last time).”
When call-ups happen, it’s a boost to the NHL club, but it also has a good effect on the American Hockey League club.
“It lets the team in Worcester see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Staubitz said. “I’m up now and (left wing Lukas) Kaspar and (left wing Jamie) McGinn have been up a few times. Everyone was excited when (defenseman Derek) Joslin got his first call-up.”
The Worcester-San Jose round trip isn’t perceived as a negative by those who’ve built up those frequent flier miles.
“Ideally you want to come up and stay, but we’re a tight knit team down there, too,” said Staubitz, knowing that strong play can always bring a player right back to the NHL.
“CLOWIE” ON THE TUBE
The Ryane Clowe
episode of "Day In The Life" will debut on the NHL Network on Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. The show will re-air Jan. 9 at 1 and 4:30 p.m.; Jan. 10 at 1:30 p.m.; and Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. All air times are PST.
The Sharks will visit Calgary on Tuesday at 7 p.m. PST and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.