San Jose Sharks Seek Florida Sweep


The San Jose Sharks can rack up their 20th road victory of the season against the Florida Panthers tonight.

Continuing their tour through the Sunshine State, the San Jose Sharks look to sweep the Florida portion of their current five-game road trip as they take on the surprising Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers. San Jose is fresh off an exciting 4-2 victory over the defending Eastern Conference champions on Tuesday night where the Sharks used a big third period to secure the two points.

Team teal continues to be one of the best teams on the road as they’re tied with the Boston Bruins for the second-most victories away from home ice with 19 this season.

Meanwhile, the Panthers are one of the best stories of the 2015-16 season as they are holding down the top spot in the Atlantic by four points over Boston. Florida has played .500 hockey during the month of February, but they appear certain for a playoff spot come April.

Part of the reason for the Panthers success has been the balance up-and-down their lineup. Currently, Florida has six players with 34 points or more, while their defense ranks fifth in the league.

This won’t be an easy matchup for the Sharks who claimed a 5-2 victory over the Panthers earlier this season.

Players to Watch:

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Sharks: Joe Thornton. Thornton has been on an absolute tear as the former Sharks captain is paving the way for his teammates. Thornton made two beautiful passes to set up goals for Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson in their win over the Lightning. Thornton has recorded three goals and six assists in seven February games for San Jose in just under 19 minutes of action per night, and he has registered at least one point in 24 of the Sharks last 26 games. Pretty staggering numbers.

Panthers: Jaromir Jagr. The never-aging Jag continues to defy the odds. The 43-year-old Jagr is tied for the team-lead with 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) and remains one of the best offensive playmakers in the NHL. Jagr provides a veteran presence for this Panthers club, and loves to possess the puck down low. The Sharks defense will have to be mindful of Jagr despite his old age.

Keys to the Game

1. Martin Jones

The 26-year-old netminder was a big question mark heading into this season for the Sharks, but he is playing his best hockey of the year at the moment. Jones is 11-2-1 over his last 14 games, and he has posted a 2.02 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in six February starts thus far. As Darin Stephens points out below, Jones actually fares better when he sees plenty of rubber throughout the course of a game.

2. Roll Four Lines

With San Jose playing on back-to-back nights, it’s imperative for the Sharks to roll all four of their lines in this contest. Peter DeBoer loves to do that anyway, but the Panthers also possess plenty of depth and firepower throughout their lineup. San Jose has been able to rely on different lines each night and the same will need to hold true in tonight’s contest.

3. Keep the Pressure On

With the Kings struggling at the moment and the Ducks surging, many are overlooking the Sharks within the Pacific Division race which is just fine for team teal. This team performs better when they are the hunters rather than the hunted. San Jose wants to keep the pressure on their Southern California rivals and continue their momentum throughout this road trip.

Next: Vlasic Continues Strong Offensive Season For Sharks


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