San Jose Sharks NHL Preview: Sharks Could Clinch Western Conference 2nd Seed With Win Over Phoenix Coyotes

It's good that the San Jose Sharks have at least been competitive in their last two outings, losses to the Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks, respectively. It shows that they're not complacent, or at least, not totally complacent at this point. They're both games that the team probably could have won if they really needed it to shape their playoff aspirations, but Phoenix and Anaheim needed the wins more and they went all out. In Friday's 4-3 loss to the Coyotes, the Sharks mounted a late-game rally to get within a goal, but fell short. It's the kind of proof-of-concept they need to show and more importantly, need to know that they can do themselves as yo're heading into the NHL Playoffs.

There was some good beyond that in the loss, as Joe Thornton joined Vincent Damphousse as the only other player to reach 1,000 career points in a Sharks uniform. He's the 78th player in league history to reach such a mark, and it definitely made him feel good and helped his confidence, of which he is adamant the entire team has plenty of heading into the playoffs.

They've won six straight of home and return for one last regular season go-round to take on the Coyotes again, who have lost four of five games against San Jose, the lone win being the aforementioned Friday night game. The Coyotes have also lost four straight at HP Pavilion. Needless to say, the Sharks would like to treat the San Jose fans with a win before marching into the admittedly intimidating NHL Playoffs.

Both teams are looking for better position in the Western Conference seedings, as the Coyotes try and wrest the fourth spot from the Nashville Predators as both teams have 99 points with Nashville holding the tiebreak and the Sharks look to seal their spot as the second seed over the Detroit Red Wings. Phoenix is a point above the Kings and two points up on the Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks.

As it stands, the Sharks hold a point over the Red Wings, and both teams have a game left to play. Detroit isn't in action until Sunday on the road, so they won't know if a loss gets them that second seed or not. A win over the Coyotes would be a lot of things: a good motivation-booster heading into the playoffs, a great win over a division rival for the home crowd and a better spot in the playoffs - how bad do they want those things?

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