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Sharks must make home ice improvement to take 3-0 lead on Kings

The San Jose Sharks have carried their ‘road warrior’ mentality into the playoffs to grab a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings in their first-round playoff series.

Now comes the toughest part for the Sharks – playing a road-type game at home.

At SAP Center in 2015-16, the Sharks were 18-20-3, which ranked 12th out of 14 teams in the Western Conference. Even the Edmonton Oilers, the worst team in the Western Conference, had one more home win than the Sharks. 

The Sharks haven’t been a good home team for a couple of years. A year ago they were 19-17-15 at home. They've diagnosed this problem as slow starts, which has led to them chasing the game, rather than playing their style.

“It’s a big thing, the other team scores first often,” forward Logan Couture said. “We have to start better and hopefully get the first goal.” 

In this series, that hasn’t been a problem for San Jose. The Kings scored first in Game 1, but the Sharks then scored on their first shot on goal to knot the game. In Game 2, San Jose again scored on their first shot on goal.

“The series is a long way from being over. I’m sure it’s going to be well documented how we played at home this year,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said according to CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to have to have another story line here, don’t we?”  

CSN Bay Area also notes the Sharks are 1-8-1 at home after a multiple game road trips and San Jose just played two games at Staples Center to start the postseason.

“I think it’s human nature to let your guard down or take a deep breath after a long road trip,” DeBoer said. “Is that the fatigue of traveling back? Is that an emotional letdown of we got the job done on the road again and played in some really tough buildings, and now we can relax a little? It may be all of those things.”

Also, there could be less energy in the building due to fan support. Only 13 of their 41 home games were sold out this past year. Until 2014-15, San Jose’s home rink was one of the toughest buildings in the NHL with 205 straight sellouts. In 2013-14, the Sharks were 29-7-5 at SAP Center.

Still, the old cliché states that regular season records mean nothing this time of year and the Kings aren’t buying the fact that the Sharks will give a worse effort at home Monday.

“I mean, the regular season and the playoffs are a totally different thing,”  Kings forward Marian Gaborik said. “They have to be ready, but we have to be ready as well. All we’re thinking is the first game and go shift-by-shift and period-by-period. We just have to play our game. Their advantage (at home) is they have the last change, but we have four balanced lines and we’re going to try to win the first game.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

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