Sharks Face Critical Stretch for Playoff Hopes


Feb 21, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan (right) in the third period during the Stadium Series hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings at Levis Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks have reached the critical point of their schedule as they try and make the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. The Sharks are getting some much needed rest this week following their disheartening 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Levi’s Stadium.

The Sharks have played either back-to-back or every other night since they returned from the All-Star Break on Jan. 29. This break should allow San Jose to regroup and see if they have anything left to make a playoff run. The schedule sets up nicely for the Sharks as seven of their next eight games are within the friendly confines of SAP Center.

Granted, San Jose has been surprisingly mediocre at home this season going 14-12-5, but the games are there for the Sharks to turn things around at home. San Jose will need to win most of these home games because the Sharks will close out the season with 10 of their final 13 games on the road, including a matinee matchup on the final day of the season against the Kings.

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It will be a tough stretch of games for the Sharks as they will host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night and will take on the Montreal Canadiens to open up March. Both of those teams are battling for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Then, perhaps the most critical games of the entire stretch will be a home-and-home series with the Vancouver Canucks, who are currently five points ahead of the Sharks with one game in hand. Vancouver might be without the services of goaltender Ryan Miller, who sustained an apparent leg injury last week.

Miller was the key cog in leading Vancouver to their two wins against San Jose this season, and securing those four points would be a huge boost for the Sharks’ playoff aspirations.

Following the two games against the Canucks, San Jose will host Pittsburgh, Nashville and Chicago, all who are considered top teams in the league, although the Blackhawks will be without star Patrick Kane. As most things with the Sharks this season, it won’t be an easy stretch, but it will be the most critical one for a team still struggling to find itself following last year’s collapse.

The biggest disappointment for most Sharks fans is this team appears to be the same weak-minded one that folded under the pressure a season ago. Didn’t they learn anything from last season?

With only 21 games remaining, and seven of the next eight at home, it’s now or never for the San Jose Sharks; otherwise, prepare for another fun offseason of leadership talks (or lack thereof) and rumors of trading their best players (cause that makes a whole lot of sense).