The San Jose Sharks, who once trailed the Anaheim Ducks by 12 points, can move into first place in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with a win tonight against the Nashville Predators. The task will not be easy as the Sharks are up against the Western Conference’s top team.
“Both teams will be ramped up,” said defenseman Josh Gorges. “They have just as much at stake as us.”
What Gorges is saying is that, although the Predators lead the conference with 79 points, the Detroit Red Wings trail by just one point. The same can be said about the Pacific. The Sharks trail Anaheim by one point, and are closely trailed by the Dallas Stars with 70 points. Anaheim and San Jose have 74 and 73 points respectively, but the Sharks have a game in hand.
All of this won’t matter if the Sharks continue to win games.
“When you are in first place, you control your own destiny,” said Gorges. “If you keep winning, you stay there. That is what we are fighting for.”
And fighting they have been. Through 58 games, the Ducks have led the Pacific. However, the Sharks never gave up.
“I think that far back we knew we needed to string together some wins and we couldn’t lose too many,” said Gorges. “They (Anaheim) had such a great start, to keep it up for all 82 games was almost unrealistic.”
Gorges could be right about keeping such an amazing pace. In the past two games, the Ducks have failed to score a goal, allowing the Sharks to close the gap. However, the season is still far from over.
“Winning tonight doesn’t guarantee anything,” said Gorges. “Tonight is just another game neither of us can afford to lose.”
Beating the Predators in Nashville could send a message. Nashville is an NHL leading 20-4-3 at home and is a different team since their defeat to the Sharks in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
“That was last year,” said Gorges. “Both teams are concentrating on what they are trying to do this year.”
To counter the Predators lofty home record, the Sharks are the Western Conference’s top road club, posting an amazing 18-8 mark. Should they win tonight, they will set a club record for most road wins in a season.
The Sharks are currently 2-0 on their eight-game trip away from HP Pavilion.
ON THE AIR
Tonight’s game airs at 5 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX, the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.