SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Jamie McGinn #64 of the San Jose Sharks fights with Bryan Bickell #29 of the Chicago Blackhawks during an NHL hockey game at HP Pavilion at San Jose on February 10, 2012 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game 5-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The San Jose Sharks are about to begin a week with four games, with each set of two being back-to-backs and the beginning of a nine-game road trip away from the HP Pavilion while the SAP Open is held there as part of the ATP World Tour. This week includes games against the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. For more on the games and the team in general, check out Fear The Fin, SB Nation's stellar San Jose Sharks blog.
The San Jose Sharks got things started following the All-Star break with two-straight wins, but went on to drop their next two games, 5-3 to the Phoenix Coyotes and 4-3 to the Calgary Flames. They got back in the win column in their next outing though, and are about to embark on a grueling road trip, playing nine-straight games on the road, with three back-to-backs and all nine of them taking place over the next 14 days. They'll get a four games back at the HP Pavilion following that, but will have another four-straight games on the road before they start getting some more consistent time at home.
Fortunately, San Jose is playing some less-than stellar teams on the road trip, especially in the early stages. That isn't to say the earliest stage will be easy though, with a game against the St. Louis Blues up first. St. Louis is one of the most surprising teams in the league, sitting at 33-14-7 and playing extremely well recently. The Blues are winners in their last three outings, and have won 12 of their last 16 games. They're gunning for the playoffs and the Sharks will definitely have a tough test there.
That might be the hardest game for awhile though, and with some rest before embarking on the road trip, they'll be in good shape. After Sunday's game against St. Louis, they'll take on the Washington Capitals the following day. Washington has been good this season, but has been playing inconsistent of late.
San Jose will wrap up the week with another back-to-back, with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and Friday. Carolina is in a bad way, with a 20-25-11 record and having lost two straight. They'll have a chance to pick up a win before they face the Sharks though, with a game against the Canadiens on Feb. 13. The Lightning are still trending downward, as one of the more disappointing teams in the league. They won their last outing following a two-game losing streak and will take on the Penguins and Senators before taking on San Jose on Feb. 16.
It's going to be a tumultuous week for the Sharks, but they're in command of their own destiny sitting at the top of the Pacific Division, three points ahead of Los Angeles and four ahead of Phoenix. David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News notes that this nine-game road trip will take the Sharks 7,750 total miles. Ouch!