After 37 games, the San Jose Sharks are joint for second with their away record at 15-6-2 – only Washington have a better record, at 16-4-2 – and yet, in the overall standings, the Sharks sit 21st.
This is down to their horrifying home record – which is the worst in the league. The SAP Center – or Shark Tank as it's known – has witnessed six wins and 12 losses this season, with zero overtime losses.
It’s the Sharks’ first season under new head coach Peter DeBoer, so a tricky adjustment period was expected, but it’s strange that they can’t mirror their away performances when at home.
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Early loss of Logan Couture
In 2014-15, Logan Couture had his career-best point scoring season with 27 goals and 67 points. Couture started the season as a key part of DeBoer’s Sharks – playing center on line two and being on the infamous San Jose powerplay – but after three games he suffered a freak injury during practice and fractured his fibula at the ankle.
Although the former first-rounder only claimed an assist in those first three games, the Sharks won all of them. They defeated their nemesis, the LA Kings, 5-1 at the Staples Center, then beat the Caps and the Ducks without conceding.
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Number 39 returned from his broken leg on December 8. Prior to that, the Sharks went 11-12-0, which was greatly boosted by sweeping their six-game November road trip. The Sharks only won three of their 11 home games during this period.
Two games and one assist later, Couture required surgery on an arterial bleed in his thigh, which put him out until December 30. Since his second return, the Teal have won and lost at home – with Couture picking up 2 assists.
Star Sharks underperforming at home
By the end of the 2014-15 regular season, per ESPN, three San Jose skaters ranked in the top 40 home point scorers. Joe Pavelski finished with 17 goals and 17 assists at the Shark Tank, ranking 28th; “Jumbo” Joe Thornton ranked 33rd with his eight goals and 33 points; then Logan Couture claimed 32 home points – in equal parts goals and assists – ranking him 38th.
Near the halfway point this season, the top three home point scorers for San Jose rank 73rd, 93rd, and 93rd – Joel Ward (14 points), Pavelski (13 points), Brent Burns (13 points).
Can the Sharks still make the playoffs?
They didn’t last year, which ended up costing long term coach Todd McLellan his job. With the new additions of top level veterans – by the likes of Joel Ward, Paul Martin, and Dainius Zubrus – they have the ability to push to the post-season.
What also helps is that the Pacific Division is very close this season, 2nd to 7th place are only separated by five points. So if the Sharks can pick up their home form they could quite easily rise up the pile.
After a much needed five-day break – following the 4-1 loss to Winnipeg at home – the Sharks commence a home-heavy January schedule. Only three of their nine fixtures this month are away from the Shark Tank, which should give them ample chance to turn around their poor home record.