The Sharks wrapped up their road schedule for the regular season with their third consecutive loss on Saturday, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Pacific Division-clinching Vegas Golden Knights. They finished their final road trip with a 1-2-1 record, earning three points out of a possible eight.
There were encouraging signs, despite the overall record. San Jose eked out a point playing on the second night of back-to-back against the Blues in St. Louis, and probably deserved a better result against the Nashville Predators, if not for rookie goaltender Juuse Saros doing his best Pekka Rinne impression.
As a result, it’s hard to have a clear takeaway from the road trip. That’s also the case for San Jose’s road record on the season.
The Sharks finished 20-14-7 away from SAP Center. From a standings perspective, 47 points out of a possible 82 is solid, ultimately enough of a foundation to put the Sharks in the postseason with just a slightly better home record, which they’ve managed. San Jose was also a respectable 16-14 in games that finished in regulation, an important distinction considering three-on-three overtimes and shootouts end with the regular season.
They also finished with a minus-eight goal differential on the road, and minus-four in games that ended in regulation. Worse, they went 8-10-4 on the road against teams in (or tied for) a playoff spot as of this writing, with a minus-13 goal differential.
The Sharks also finished with a 4-1-1 record against Pacific Division playoff teams, the only losses being one-goal defeats to the Golden Knights. The four wins came against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose is most likely going to play one of those teams in the first round.
Conversely, they’ve won just once in eight games on the road against Central Division teams currently in (or, like the Colorado Avalanche, tied for) a playoff spot. That win didn’t occur in Nashville or Winnipeg, homes to the top-two seeds in the Central and the most-likely conference finalists.
So the Sharks have enough on their road resume to be bullish about their postseason chances, but also plenty to be bearish. We may not see which notion wins out for a while, as the Sharks only need three points in their last three home games to lock up home-ice advantage in the first round, but not beyond.
Whichever one does win out, though, will likely determine how long a potential playoff run lasts.