A few weeks ago, the San Jose Sharks were floundering. The Shark’s offense was largely absent from their games and Antti Niemi was doing all he could to keep the score close. Talk of selling at the deadline and planning for next season began to creep in. The Sharks clawed their way to a victory against the division-leading Ducks and breathed a huge sigh of relief. At a time when they needed it most, the Sharks’ savior arrived: A seven game homestand. The Sharks returned to HP Pavilion and became another team altogether. The Sharks jumped four spots in the standings to fifth, one spot behind the Kings.
Pavelski Coming Up Clutch
Joe Pavelski has been largely quiet all season. He had done his part for the San Jose Sharks, scoring seven goals coming into the first of the back-to-back games against Ducks. But after a crucial goal away at the Honda Center, number 8 would score in the next three games. He scored eventual game winners against the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings at home and a goal late in the third against the Calgary Flames. Pavelski’s resurgence provides a useful reminder to Sharks fans of what he is capable of producing. A few years back, Joe was the spark in the San Jose offense that made it all the way to the Conference Finals in 2010. If Joe Pavelski can keep up the production, the outlook for the San Jose Sharks looks bright, especially in May.
Niemi and Blue Line
Antti Niemi has been the San Jose Sharks most consistent performer all season long. He has anchored the Shark back line and is third in the league in wins. Niemi’s GAA and save percentage are also career bests in a season. The defense, an unsung hero on most NHL teams, has also been locked down. The Sharks only gave up seven goals on the homestand and blocked tons of shots. Coming into Tuesday’s games, the San Jose Sharks lead the league in blocked shots per game, an extremely underrated stat. Shooters are frustrated and momentum is killed when shots fail to get through traffic. To get a grasp on how well the Sharks do this, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who San Jose played Tuesday, have blocked 149 less shots than the Sharks but played one more game.
Penalty Kill Dominates
In seven games at home, the Sharks were short-handed a total of twelve times. That number in itself, is dramatically low as they were very disciplined staying out of the box. But in those twelve penalty kills, the Sharks gave up only one goal. The penalty kill for the Sharks is not something of legend around the league… that is, until the Sharks come home. At HP Pavilion, the San Jose Sharks kill is deadly. They began this homestand just inside the upper half of the league on the kill, but have finished the extended homestand at number four.
San Jose Sharks at home in the Postseason
The San Jose Sharks are only one point behind their division foes the Los Angeles Kings with a game in hand. Getting that four spot will give San Jose home ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. The importance of getting that fourth seed is personified by the recent run the Sharks went on in comparison to their first game on the road. The Sharks were drubbed 4-0 at Columbus. While the Blue Jacket netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, has been playing out of his mind recently; Tuesday’s shutout did not require much work on his part. Whatever is in the water at the tank, it makes the Sharks a Stanley Cup contender. But they need to improve on the road. Fast.