It's clear that the San Jose Sharks are in a must-win situation, without all the cliches that come with that statement. Some start using it in late February, and others in early March, but it's rarely ever the case. Now, with four games remaining and not in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they started today, the Sharks absolutely have to win. It's reached a point where CSN Bay Area analysts are arguing with one another.
Fortunately, the Sharks can win. They're in a position where their final four games are against the Los Angeles Kings and the Dallas Stars, two of the three teams above the Sharks in the Pacific Division (separated by no more than two points, as it happens). If they win those games, then they're right back in the thick of things. Now that they're behind, it's possible that winning out will be for naught, but all you can do is beat the teams in front of you.
Beating the Stars and Kings twice apiece over their final four games won't be easy, especially given that their Pacific Division rivals have essentially built themselves to beat San Jose. To help things a little bit, Sharks coach Todd McLellan canceled practice on Friday - something that has been questioned by some, but really makes sense in the scheme of things. San Jose played 17 games in the month of March, and had played fewer games than any over the course of the beginning of the season.
In short, this is the hardest part of the season by design, and if McLellan thinks the team needs a night off from practice, then he should probably be trusted. The Sharks need to get things straight mentally, and hopefully get Douglas Murray back from his lower body injury, which is a possibility for their next game.
On the ice, the Sharks need some more production from guys like Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. It seems as though the latter has is having his patented "once per season dry spell" at the worst time, while Couture hasn't scored a goal in nine games, the longest gap of his short career (a hat tip to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News for pointing that out).
Whatever needs to be done, it needs to be soon, as the team gets set to play the first of those four aforementioned games on Saturday, when they play host to the Dallas Stars at the HP Pavilion. Dallas leads San Jose by a single point, but had an opportunity to make it three when they played the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. Unfortunately for them, they were soundly beat by a score of 5-2.
So San Jose has a chance to capitalize, and get back on even ground with the Kings in regards to points, since the Kings picked up two and took the lead in the division on Friday as well.