San Jose Sharks Look to Continue Strong Play Versus Jets

Mar 19, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) deflects a shot by the New York Rangers in the 3rd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. The Sharks won 4-1.
Mar 19, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) deflects a shot by the New York Rangers in the 3rd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. The Sharks won 4-1. /

With the playoffs less than a week away, the Sharks will go for their fifth win in six games tonight against the Jets.

Only two games remain on the docket for the San Jose Sharks, and with a good stretch of play already in hand, the Sharks have a chance to be one of the hotter teams heading into the playoffs next week.

The first of a two-game home stand to cap off the season comes tonight against the Winnipeg Jets, who are ready for their disappointing season to be over.

The Sharks return to the SAP Center following a couple big road wins against two playoff-bound teams in Nashville and Minnesota. With James Reimer getting the nod in net for both contests, Martin Jones will return to the crease for this one, looking to further prove his case to be named the playoff starter by head coach Peter DeBoer.

San Jose (45-29-6) is locked in as the three seed in the Pacific Division, awaiting to see who their playoff foe will be between Los Angeles and Anaheim, who will faceoff tonight in a critical game. Winnipeg and Arizona are team teal’s final two opponents of the season, and two wins would earn them 100 points for the year.

For the most part, the Sharks have seen great consistency throughout their whole lineup during the season, had phenomenal goaltending, and are fortunate to have three game-changing players who have all had a fantastic campaign in Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.

North of the border, the Jets (33-39-8) have seen things go astray coming off a season that gave the city its first playoff appearance in 19 years. Winnipeg’s playoff hopes were dashed months ago, and the Andrew Ladd trade with Chicago only sealed the team’s 2015-16 fate.

More from Blades of Teal

The Jets still have good pieces in defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and forwards Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little, plus a plethora of young talent on the roster and maybe the best group of prospects in the NHL in Josh Morrissey, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Nic Petan, Marko Dano and Connor Hellebuyck. Winnipeg is on track to be a scary-good team in the future if those pieces pan out, but it may take them a couple years to be relevant again come April and May.

Players to Watch

Sharks: Martin Jones. There’s an ongoing debate about which goalieDeBoer will choose as the playoff starter, and it will be a difficult one as both Jones and Reimer have been at peak performance in the last month. Reimer’s stats are better than Jones’, plus he has three shutouts in eight starts in teal, but Jones’ success prior to March is a reason why they are back in the playoffs. Jones has the opportunity to bounce back tonight, further cementing his position as the number one for San Jose.

Jets: Nikolaj Ehlers. Winnipeg has little left to play for, but still wants to see production from guys they are counting on in the future, like Ehlers. The 20 year-old Dane has 35 points in 70 games, and he is the one being counted on to fill Ladd’s absence in the next several years at left wing. Ending the season on a good note would be a healthy way to go into the offseason for Ehlers.

Keys to the Game

1. Continue Solid Goaltending

Team teal has done great work winning games when their net minders perform well, winning 23 of their last 24 games when allowing two goals or less. If Jones can allow two goals or fewer, which he should be able to do against a team with the third-fewest goals in the Western Conference, the Sharks, based on recent history, are almost guaranteed to come away with two points.

2. Avoid Injuries

The Sharks remain without Matt Nieto and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, so no more injuries in their final two games that won’t effect their playoff position.

Next: Who Do The Sharks Want in the First Round?

3. Points From Players Who Need Them

Joel Ward, Tommy Wingels, Justin Braun, Paul Martin and Chris Tierney – points have been extremely hard to come by recently for these five players, whose production could be important in the playoffs. The opportunity will be there against two of the weaker teams in the NHL in the last two games, so seeing production from these guys, win or lose, would be nice.