The Sharks can clinch the Pacific Division Championship Monday night against the Kings. San Jose’s fourth straight division crown can come regardless of the type of win – regulation, overtime or shootout.
In this case, a win is a win.
The players know the Kings have different visions of Monday’s game, so nothing short of an all-out effort is necessary.
|San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture (39) celebrates his goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with teammates Ian White (9), Ryane Clowe (29), and Niclas Wallin (7), of Sweden, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) |
“We’re very happy to be in this position and get a chance to seal it up tonight. I’m sure we’re going to be ready,” defenseman Ian White said.
A sixth Pacific Division banner would look nice in the rafters of HP Pavilion, but playoff positioning is more important.
“The division title means you can’t get worse than third place,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
said. “We would get home ice advantage so it’s important to clinch second or third (overall). It’s good news that it’s so close, but we still have to win. If you clinch the division and lose in the first or second round, it doesn’t mean anything.”
The Pacific Division title has become expected by the Sharks fan base, but if they could clinch it this year, there should be a little extra pride as the division was clearly the National Hockey League’s best all season.
“You play those teams so many times in a season, six times each,” center Kyle Wellwood said. “Teams in our division are really pushing to take the division title away from the Sharks and take home ice. I think the way the five teams have played, all five could make the playoffs. I think it gets us ready for the playoffs.”
While many of the Sharks have experienced the postseason, this will be White’s first playoffs of his NHL career.
“I’ve never even been in the playoffs,” White said. “Five years in Toronto and last year in Calgary I missed it too, so this is my first chance.”
White, who was acquired by the Sharks from Carolina in February, is having a memorable season.
“Without question,” White said about the 2010-11 season being the most fun he’s had. “I’ve never really been on a winning team. That’s basically why you play the game. You want to win from when you are four or five years old until you’re probably even 60. You want to win a Stanley Cup and that’s your goal. To be on such a great team, I’ve really been blessed with this opportunity. I know we’re going to make the most of it.”
MARLEAU IN THE MIDDLE
In Saturday’s win against Anaheim, Coach Todd McLellan frequently used left wing Patrick Marleau
at center. That will happen again tonight against the Kings.
“We’ll mix it up,” McLellan said. “Since we’re been here, Patty has always been the guy asked to play the wing, to play out of position. Going down the stretch we get an opportunity not to tinker with things a little bit but to try and experiment a little bit. Patty being in the middle with Jumbo (Joe Thornton
) on the wing was something we talked about. It gives him the faceoff reps and the opportunity to polish his game up. We ask him to take some very important (faceoffs) in the penalty kill role and we’ll look to continue to do that for a little while.”
35 YEARS TO THE DATE
|Montreal's Guy Lafleur drives to the Seals net during a mid-1970s game at The Forum. Bobby Stewart (No. 6) is on defense, while Gilles Meloche tends the net. |
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the last game played by the California Golden/Oakland Seals. Ironically, the Seals played the game at the Oakland Coliseum Arena and the opponent that night: the Los Angeles Kings.
OHL PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Sharks prospect center Michael Sgarbossa has been named the Ontario Hockey League’s player of the month for March. Sgarbossa, 18, who’s been playing for the Sudbury Wolves, tied for the league-lead with 27 points in 13 games during the month and recorded a league-high plus-15.
San Jose will play hosts to Los Angeles at 7 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com