San Jose Sharks Search For Positives As Road Trip Continues In Detroit


Feb 26, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) makes a save against San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks are all but assured of missing the postseason for the first time in 11 seasons. Now, the Sharks are looking to maintain their pride and close out this road trip, and season, on the best possible note. The road trip heads to Detroit after four straight games against Canadian opposition to face a familiar foe in the Detroit Red Wings.

Despite Detroit’s move to the Eastern Conference, both of these teams are still very familiar with one another from their playoff battles in the Western Conference. Both teams limp into this matchup having lost four of their last five games. Detroit still sits comfortably in third place in the Atlantic Division, although the red-hot Ottawa Senators are starting to nip at their heels. Meanwhile, San Jose’s fate appears to be sealed as they will likely have to win out to even have a chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

One thing working in San Jose’s favor tonight is Detroit will be missing their best player in Pavel Datsyuk according to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News. This will be big for a Sharks team that has allowed 19 goals during their past five games.

Players to Watch

San Jose: Joe Pavelski. In a season where the Sharks have been defined by inconsistency, Pavelski has been the most consistent performer for San Jose. He leads the Sharks with 35 goals, 66 points and a plus-11 rating, and is second in the entire league with 18 power play goals. Pavelski has begun to heat up again with three goals in the past 5 games and will be looking to eclipse the 40-goal plateau for the second consecutive season. Not bad for a guy who isn’t overly flashy on the ice.

Detroit: Jimmy Howard. Howard has been the rock in goal for Detroit once again, but has fallen on hard times recently. Howard is a solid 21-12-10 with a 2.40 goals-against-average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage. However, Howard has lost six of his last eight starts, including a 5-4 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes last time out where he allowed five goals on only 22 shots. Historically, Howard has struggled against the Sharks posting a 4-6-4 record in 14 regular season starts with a 2.73 GAA and a .910 save percentage according to Hockey-Reference.

Quick Take

It will be interesting to see which Sharks team shows up when the puck drops tonight. San Jose has lost three of the first four games on their seven-game road trip and each loss has been devastating for a franchise that appears to be splitting at the seams. While the Sharks haven’t been officially eliminated from playoff contention, they need a miracle in order to extend their postseason streak.

Meanwhile, Detroit is looking to get their game back on track as they head into the postseason. The Red Wings are a good opponent for the Sharks because of the familiarity that exists between the two teams and San Jose typically plays well against Detroit. San Jose will be looking to avenge an earlier loss when Detroit scored two late goals to snatch a 3-2 victory from the Sharks’ grasp.

Will the Sharks put forth a solid effort and find a way to win or will they fold tent again in the third period against a quality opponent?

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