San Jose Sharks Look To Narrow Gap On Winnipeg Jets


Mar 14, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially go time for the San Jose Sharks and there is no more time to waste if they have any intention of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. The Sharks have been an inconsistent group all year, but have 13 games left to change the tenor of their season.

San Jose begins that stretch, and a critical seven-game road trip, when they visit the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the MTS Centre. Currently, the Sharks are four points behind the Jets and five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. San Jose will be looking to sweep the season series from Winnipeg after posting 3-0 and 3-2 victories earlier in the season, the latter coming in Winnipeg when Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the game-winning goal with 4.5 seconds remaining.

It’s a must-win game for San Jose who cannot afford to lose any more ground in the race for the playoffs.

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Players to Watch

San Jose: Joe Thornton. By now, everyone in the hockey world is familiar with the ongoing rift between Thornton and general manager Doug Wilson, but it’s the hockey on the ice that matters most now. Thornton is having another solid season, leading the Sharks in assists once again with 44, and second on the team with 58 points. Thornton scored his 14th goal of the season last time out and will be looked to heavily down the stretch.

Winnipeg: Andrew Ladd. Ladd, the captain and leader for the Jets, is looking to lead Winnipeg to the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved back to Canada. Ladd leads the Jets in points (55), assists (32) and average ice time per game for forwards (20:04). It should be an interesting matchup between Ladd and Thornton should their lines be pitted against one another.

Quick Take

The Sharks can ill-afford to lose this game in any capacity and it would bolster their playoff hopes if they can find a way to win in regulation, which would close the gap to three points on the Los Angeles Kings. Also, with San Jose embarking on a seven-game road trip, the Sharks need to get off to a good start to build momentum.

The two teams are fairly even in most statistical categories so it should be a tightly-contested, close game. The Jets are just as desperate as the Sharks since they want to bring playoff hockey back to Winnipeg.

For San Jose, this is their last stand. Are the Sharks going to rise up to the challenge or are they ready for another offseason of tough questions and turmoil?

Stay tuned, because this could be the rallying or breaking point for a franchise on the brink.

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