The San Jose Sharks are taking baby steps when they need to take leaps, and if they don't jump soon they're going to find themselves in a situation they're really not used to: outside the playoffs looking in. Gone will be the gripes of choking in the playoffs, gone will be the aspirations of getting back at the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals and gone should be the cocky swagger that every Sharks fan has during the regular season.
It's gut check time, and the Sharks are presently a ways away from paydirt. They've steadily gotten better in each of their last four games, but none of this progress has translated to anything in the win column. They've lost all four of their last, and their last four home games. Thing is, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven't won in San Jose in close to fifteen years.
San Jose has dropped six of their last eight, including a shutout in their last meeting, a 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks where they met stiff goaltending despite seemingly stellar puck play. Antti Niemi stopped 27 and played well, but the one that got through was enough to put the Sharks out of it.
The Maple Leafs are looking for their fifth straight road win, posting victories of 6-3 and 3-2 over the Thrashers and Kings, respectively. James Reimer was the MVP for the Leafs last night against the Kings, making 17 saves in the final period alone to bring his total to 30 for the night. Toronto will look to win in San Jose for the first time since March of 1997. The last time they beat the Sharks anywhere was January of 2002 and apart from some ties, are generally dominated by San Jose.
The Sharks sit at ninth place in the Western Conference and eight points back of the Dallas Stars for the Pacific Division lead.