San Jose Sharks Kick Off Pivotal Week Against The Pittsburgh Penguins


Mar 7, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks bench watch the game during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks face a critical stretch as they host three of the NHL’s top teams to close out their four-game homestand this week. After that, the Sharks will hit the road as 10 of their final 13 games will be away from the friendly confines of the Shark Tank.

San Jose begins the tough stretch by hosting the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sharks lost a crucial two points last time out when they allowed the Vancouver Canucks to overcome a two-goal deficit, in defeating San Jose 3-2. The Sharks now sit five points out of a playoff spot with only 16 games remaining.

Meanwhile, the Penguins roll into SAP Center in third place in the Metropolitan Division, just three points behind the division-leading New York Islanders. Pittsburgh has won six of their past seven games and look like one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.

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Players to Watch

San Jose: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic has had another stellar season for a San Jose defense that has struggled thus far. Vlasic has a career-high eight goals and leads the Sharks with a plus-15 rating overall. Vlasic will be relied upon heavily to help shut down a potent Pittsburgh attack that ranks ninth in the league in goals per game.

Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby. Crosby is the best player in the world and he is once again the catalyst for the Penguins. Crosby leads Pittsburgh with 45 assists and is second on the team with 66 points, just one point behind teammate Evgeni Malkin. While Crosby is having another solid season, he has struggled in his career against San Jose. According to Hockey-Reference, Crosby has only four assists in six career games versus the Sharks and he is a minus-six in those contests which is his worst plus-minus rating against any team in the league.

Quick Take

San Jose is desperate for points as their playoff hopes continue to dwindle. It won’t be easy against a Pittsburgh team that seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. The Sharks and Penguins tend to play high-scoring affairs when they get together at SAP Center and that might spell trouble for a San Jose team that struggles with turnovers in their own end.

The Sharks will need to play a mistake-free game if they want to pick up a big win over the Penguins as they try to claw their way back into the playoff picture.

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