There’s little the Sharks can accomplish moving forward toward the regular season’s conclusion, but there are several items on their check list.
Unless Detroit loses their final three games – including tonight’s match in Chicago -- while the Sharks take their final two games, San Jose will be the second seed in the Western Conference. Detroit has two contests remaining with Chicago and one with Columbus, while Team Teal has one each in Los Angeles and Dallas.
The big concerns for Head Coach Ron Wilson are sustaining momentum and getting players some rest. Of course, he’s got a plan to accomplish both.
Players with various injuries will be allowed to rest for a game or two. For the rest of the team, Wilson plans to keep a strong lineup going every night, but playing time may be adjusted. An example of this is Joe Thornton
, who routinely leads Sharks forwards in minutes played. On March 21, Thornton played 24:13 against Anaheim. Nine days against Phoenix, Thornton only played 15:27.
For non-game days, Wilson is cancelling practices when necessary. He’ll also limit on-ice time when the team does practice.
For players, the type of rest varies by individual. Brian Campbell, because of his midseason trade, could end up playing in 83 regular season games. Does he want a break? Not really. He’d rather stay in the lineup.
“It’s not just one thing,” Campbell said. “It’s a number of different things. I want to stay sharp and keep playing.”
Campbell is a big fan of Wilson’s approach.
“Obviously, Ron has done a good job lately of keeping the guys out that need to be out,” he said.
Captain Patrick Marleau
wants to continue his hot streak. Entering Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles, he scored 14 points (seven goals) in his last 17 games.
“It’s different for every individual,” he said. “If a guy plays a lot of minutes, maybe you play him a little less. It’s a fine line. You don’t want to get out of sync. Some guys should take more time off.”
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov prefers to play, but understands why reserve Brian Boucher should get some action in one of the final two games.
“I’m physically fine and would rather keep playing, but you want (Boucher) to contribute and he’s kept the team on a roll,” Nabokov said.
“You just don’t want to overplay people,” Wilson said.
At least Wilson hasn’t had to worry about the Sharks slipping as he’s reduced the minutes for his key players in the past few contests, yet still won games or got at least a point. Contributions have come from every line and every player.
“They feel somebody will do something to win the game for us,” Wilson said.
WHAT A MONTH
Wilson said that he’s never been involved in a stretch where his team has picked up at least one point in every game. Over San Jose’s last 20 games, the Sharks have earned 38 of a possible 40 points, going 18-0-2.
“It’s the longest I’ve ever gone,” Wilson said “We went 12 games with a point down the stretch in Anaheim. I’d like to see if any team has gone the month of March (without a regulation loss).”
San Jose’s March winning percentage was the NHL’s all-time best among teams that played at least 10 games in the month. In grabbing 28 of 30 points for a .933 winning percentage, they bested the 1950-51 Detroit Red Wings who went 10-1-0 with a .909 mark. The 1926-27 Montreal Canadiens and the 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers are the only other teams to have posted a mark of .900 or better.
“If you’d have said to me at the start of the season we would (do that),” Wilson said, “I would have said you were nuts.”
SABERCATS AND POSSIBLE PLAYOFF CONFLICT
The following information was released today by the San Jose SaberCats regarding the start time of their April 12 game at HP Pavilion. While it does note the chance of a Sharks playoff game on the date, there is nothing official from the Sharks or the NHL at this point.
"Start time for the San Jose SaberCats vs. Philadelphia Soul April 12 Arena Football League game at HP Pavilion has been changed to 8:45 p.m. (PT) from its originally scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff time, the team announced today.
The move was prompted by the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. The San Jose Sharks will potentially be playing a first-round game the afternoon of April 12."
The Sharks will visit Los Angeles at 7:30 on Thursday night. The contest will be available on FSN Plus, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com