If Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Coyotes in Phoenix was even more proof, the San Jose Sharks need the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the playoffs if they are to make waves in the Western Conference playoffs.
Currently, the Sharks are the fifth seed in the Western Conference with 57 points. After the Los Angeles Kings lost to the surging Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night, the two teams remain tied in points.
However, the tie breaker will not have to be in effect for the Sharks and Kings as the playoff picture begins to take form with one game to play. The Sharks will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Kings Saturday, with the winner standing a good chance of landing the fourth seed, and the loser hoping the St. Louis Blues do not leap over the competition to improve their playoff seeding.
Both the Kings and Sharks control their destiny, more or less, and both need a win on Saturday due to their lackluster play this season on the road. At home, San Jose has lost only twice in regulation (17-2-5), but on the road the Sharks are 8-13-2. The Kings have a similar 8-12-2 record on the road.
The Sharks have the highest point total of any NHL team on their home ice this season (39), and it would be a clear advantage to the Sharks if they win Saturday and take over the fourth seed.
San Jose’s road woes against both the Kings and the Blues, possible opening round opponents in the playoffs, are also prime reasons as to why the Sharks need the decisive home-ice advantage in the playoffs. San Jose lost its only game in Los Angeles this season, 5-2, and the Blues flexed their home-ice muscle last season in the first round of the playoffs after dominating two of the three games at the Scottrade Center. The Sharks managed to escape with a Game 1 overtime win, their only victory of the series.
The Sharks are a different team this time around, though. They are bigger and faster than in past seasons, with a goalie up for the Vezina Trophy and arguably playing his best hockey since entering the NHL.
Home ice will certainly help the cause for the Sharks, especially since San Jose’s past playoff woes are a constant reminder as to how different a game the playoffs become.
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