Through the first 11 games the Sharks’ 2018-19 campaign, they’ve only spent three tilts on home ice. All the travel hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk either. On the most recent three-game road trip, they traveled to Nashville, then all the way to the east coast to Carolina, then back to California.
“I don’t know if anyone’s had a tougher schedule to start than us,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the media after the team’s 4-3 overtime win in Anaheim, which finally concluded the hectic road schedule.
Now, the Sharks gearing up for a four straight games at the Tank with a mix of competition awaiting them. Despite not playing in San Jose very much, their success on the recent roadie sets them up pretty well to put a few notches in the win column while they’re at home.
Right out of the gate San Jose has a rematch against the New York Rangers, a team that beat the Sharks a couple weeks ago behind a vintage performance from netminder Henrik Lundqvist. After continuing to grind against a dominant John Gibson on Sunday, who gave Anaheim a chance to win on Sunday, the Sharks are even more prepared to go up against a strong opposing goalie.
It doesn’t hurt that the Sharks special teams came alive on the recent roadie, contributing in all three tilts away from San Jose. The Sharks can capitalize on that in the up-coming homestand with the first three teams they face – New York, Columbus, and Philadelphia – all ranking in the lower echelon in the penalty kill department. (That could potentially set them up by the time they face the Minnesota Wild who possess the sixth best kill in the league.)
It isn’t just the special teams that have gelled particularly well on the Sharks’ recent travels. Chemistry is clearly coming together on both the offensive and defensive front.
“We’re finding our way, we’re finding our identity as a team,” DeBoer commented after the win over the Ducks. “We know what our good games look like, what’s working for us.”
Knowing what works can really pay dividends as the Sharks prepare for this upcoming four-game homestand.