SAN JOSE – There isn’t any number crunching going on in the Sharks' dressing room or coaches office when it comes to how many points will be necessary to make it to the postseason.
“You guys do the math,” Patrick Marleau said in his media scrum on Friday. “You know it’s going to take a lot of wins.”
It is. The number that’s been floated out in order to qualify in the Western Conference this season is 96, give or take a couple. It’s not an exact science, of course, but it’s probably a good benchmark. It means the Sharks, who enter Saturday’s game with 72 points (32-25-8) and 17 games left, will need to accumulate around 24 of a possible 34 available.
To put that in perspective, the Sharks’ best 17-game stretch this season came from Nov. 29 – Jan. 6, when they went 12-4-1 for 25 points.
“We know we need to win the majority of games to get where we want to get,” Tommy Wingels said. “Do we have a number out of those games in mind? No.”
The schedule may be their biggest hurdle.
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The Sharks will open up their final lengthy homestand on Saturday with the Canucks. After that, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks – all legitimate Stanley Cup contenders – visit SAP Center over the next week.
After that, 10 of the final 13 are on the road, including a seven-game trip primarily through Canada and the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve got that long trip coming up. We all know that,” Logan Couture said. “It’s going to be a tough one for us, and we need to get as many points as possible right now.”
Saturday’s game with the Canucks looms large, as Vancouver is still a team that the Sharks could potentially catch in the standings. The Canucks are four points ahead of San Jose with one in hand. If the Sharks lose in regulation, the Canucks will likely become just another team that’s out of reach.
Win, though, and San Jose will have its first three-game winning streak since Jan. 21- 31 when it knocked off Los Angeles, Anaheim and Chicago in succession. That would earn the club some confidence headed into those next three challenging home games.
“I think first and foremost this game against Vancouver is very, very important,” Wingels said. “That being said, if we take care of business in this game, we’ll have quite the opportunity over the next stretch in those tough games. … You’re playing playoff teams and playing teams that you would have to go through in order to win a Stanley Cup.”
Couture said: “Good opponents, big games for us. We seem to play well against very good teams, so we’ll see.”
San Jose is just 15-14-5 at SAP Center, but ended an eight-game home losing streak with Monday’s impressive 4-0 shutout of the Canadiens.
“We’ve got to build off that,” Marleau said. “We’ve got to get back to having our building be a tough building for other teams to come into.”
The more they win, no matter where the games are played, the more likely that calculator app will remain unopened.
“I don’t know about points. I just know wins,” Marleau said. “We can’t afford to lose any games, basically.”