Sharks need to reverse road trends

Sharks need to reverse road trends
April 2, 2012, 7:47 pm

DALLAS Now would be a fine time for the Sharks to get their road act together.

San Joses lack of success away from HP Pavilion may be the biggest single reason it finds itself on the playoff bubble, rather than comfortably leading the Pacific Division with a week to play. The nine-game road trip in late February (in which the Sharks were just 2-6-1) stands out, but really, it started much earlier than that.

Since Jan. 15, San Jose is just 4-13-4 in road games, and three of those wins came against teams that wont be in the playoffs (Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton). The fourth was against the Capitals, who are also fighting for their playoff lives.

Since a 2-1 over the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 23, the Sharks are 1-6-2.

For the season, San Jose is 15-17-7 on the road with a -14 goal differential, compared with a 25-12-3 mark at home and an impressive 24. After winning seven of the first nine on the road, including an early road trip in late October when the club won five of six on an East Coast swing, San Jose is just 8-15-7.

The Sharks have already been shut out on the road six times, tying a franchise high set in 1991-92.

The good news is a vital two-game jaunt to Dallas and Los Angeles this week provides the opportunity for the club to reverse some of its road frustrations and go out on a high note. The playoffs would be a virtual certainty if the Sharks can win both in regulation, and some road confidence would probably do them some good if they end up as the seven or eight seed.

Take a look at some of the stats below regarding the Sharks struggles on the road since Jan. 15, a span of 21 games.

4-13-4 record
-24 goal differential
Scored three goals or fewer 19 times (3-13-3)

Special teams
Power Play: 15-for-56 (26.8 percent)
Penalty Kill: 43-for-54 (79.6 percent)

101 combined shot differential
2-9-4 when out-shooting opponents (only wins: Jan. 24 at Flames & Mar. 12 at Oilers)

3.28 goals-against average, .885 save percentage
Allowed three goals or more 16 times (1-12-3)

Antti Niemis last 12 road starts (since Jan. 10):
3-6-2, 3.22 goals-against average, .887 save percentage
Allowed four-plus goals five times (two shutouts)