Despite still clinging to the top spot in the NHL, it looks like the San Jose Sharks are not going to come away with home ice throughout the playoffs. The Sharks are currently one game into their most challenging portion of the season.
Before Monday's game in Dallas, San Jose lost both Jeremy Roenick and Mike Grier to season-ending injuries. Both are supposed to return for the playoffs but dealing without them will cause major problems for the Sharks. Their bottom two lines will now be missing four of the six total players who will be expected to play in the playoffs.
Center Torrey Mitchell has still not returned this season after suffering a broken leg in training camp and when you add him to the list of Marcel Goc, Grier and Roenick, you can see the grit, speed, passion, and experience the Sharks are missing on their checking lines.
San Jose did add veteran winger Travis Moen and defenseman Kent Huskins at the deadline from Anaheim for prospects and conditional draft picks but it is hard to say if that will be enough to stop the bleeding for the Sharks.
The 4-1 loss to Dallas was arguably the most disappointing game the Sharks have played all season. Even thought they have lost 5-2 to Calgary and 6-0 to Detroit, this game was at home, where they have gone 26-2-3 before Monday's contest, and against a team not currently in the playoffs.
Clearly the Sharks put forth one of their worst efforts of the season against the Stars and perhaps the blame can be put on the injuries but it seems also that neither captain Patrick Marleau nor Joe Thornton has the capability to put the team on their backs.
For as much as Sharks color commentator Drew Remenda says Thornton is the best player in the world, Thornton sure isn't playing like it. Other players who constantly argued as the best in the world like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk, all know how to carry the load when their team needs it. Thornton has yet to show that this year.
But both Thornton and Marleau will be their standard selves for the rest of the season and into the playoffs but don't expect either of them to do anything special. The big-time players come playoff time will be Jeremy Roenick and Torrey Mitchell.
But right now both are injured and the Sharks have lost the energy and speed those two bring respectively. Without it, San Jose will be lucky to hang on to home ice throughout the playoffs.
An without home ice, the Sharks may have to start a potential conference final against Detroit on the road in Joe Louis Arena, and if that's the case, San Jose can kiss the hopes at a first Stanley Cup goodbye. They have showed no ability to play in Detroit this year, losing big twice, including a 6-0 drubbing and were outscored 10-1 in total.