Regardless of where San Jose finishes among the top two of the Western Conference, the 2009-10 regular season has been good to the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks clinched their third consecutive and fifth Pacific Division title – all coming since the 2001-02 season. They won 50 games for the second straight season and third in the last four.
What does all this mean?
“It shows how consistent this team is game in and game out,” Patrick Marleau
said. “It means you haven’t had long stretches of losing.”
For the players, having successful regular seasons helps in several ways.
“You get confident winning so many games and that helps heading to the playoffs,” Marleau said.
Being a high seed also guarantees home ice advantage throughout most of the postseason.
“I think that’s why you play 82 games, to come in first or second and have home ice,” said Scott Nichol of having the home fans behind them during the playoffs. “It’s huge as far as travel. You have the luxury of staying home.
“We’re all wondering who we will play, but some teams have to jump right on a plane,” Nichol added. “They don’t know where they’re starting. We know we are starting at home.”
“To get home ice is an advantage, especially with our fans,” Jed Ortmeyer said.
Ortmeyer has played 13 National Hockey League postseason games, all with the New York Rangers. This time, however, the situation is different.
“You’re confident coming to the rink knowing you have a great chance of winning,” Ortmeyer said. “The mindset of always having to play your best game to get a win is more stressful.”
Head Coach Todd McLellan gives a lot of credit for his club’s success to his players.
“The team came together pretty quickly,” said McLellan, noting all of the personnel changes and the technical adjustments implemented.
If Chicago doesn’t take both points in their game on Friday at Colorado and San Jose grabs both from Phoenix on Saturday, the Sharks will finish first in the Western Conference and have home ice advantage through the Western Conference Finals.
THE DEMERS EXPERIMENT
Rookie defenseman Jason Demers
played at forward again on Thursday night. However, he also played on the blue line as well. Veteran defenseman Rob Blake hinted that Demers should stay on the forward line for one simple reason.
“There are more dollars up front, maybe he can score 50,” Blake said with a smile.
Demers isn’t the only defenseman to be a swingman. Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien has played he role this season. Ditto for Dan Boyle
. In fact, Blake did the same while playing for the Los Angeles Kings.
“I played forward for one game with L.A. against Nashville, I had two helpers,” Blake said. “I patrolled the right wing.”
Rookie forward Brad Staubitz actually made the move full-time. Demers is happy to roll with the punches, but prefers having the puck to start plays from the defensive end.
“I’m a D by choice,” he said. “They’re asking me to try it and as long as I’m in the lineup it’s fine. It’s been fun so far. It’s fun to chase people instead of being chased.”
He’s acknowledged being a little lost, but he has a simple plan in those instances.
“There have been a few times I’ve second guessed myself and I just think like a D and go back,” Demers said.
Note the adjustments for the television broadcast for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game vs. Phoenix.
•Comcast Cable (all systems) – channel 410
•AT&T U-Verse – channel 695 (SD)
•Dish Network – channel 452 (SD)
•DirecTV – channel 695 (SD)
•Mediacom – channel 70 (SD)
The contest will also be on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.