After losing five of six on the road, the San Jose Sharks return to HP Pavilion tonight looking to snap out of a 1-6-3 slide that has dropped them from the top of the Western Conference to ninth place -- and out of the postseason, if the season were to end today.
Lucky for the Sharks, however, the season does not end today.
But it hasn't been pretty for San Jose in the last ten games. It's been downright embarrassing at times, actually.
The Sharks (8-6-3 overall) outscored opponents 27-12 during their seven-game win streak to open the season, but they've been outscored 25-12 since on their way down the standings.
One culprit: power-play failures.
San Jose is only three-for-46 on special teams over the last 10 games, after being on fire (12-for-32) early in the season in man-up situations.
Strangely, the Sharks are fifth in the National Hockey League, giving up only 2.18 goals per game this season. Only Nashville, Montreal, Ottawa and Chicago have been better on defense.
Interestingly, Nashville (2.10) and Ottawa (2.25) have scoring issues even worse than San Jose (2.29) this year.
But without their defensive strength this season, the Sharks would be wallowing in even deeper trouble than they already are right now.
Tonight, San Jose will be missing feisty forward Ryane Clowe, serving the second game of a two-tilt suspension from the league office.
However, the Sharks have earned a point in 13 straight regular-season matchups against Colorado, and they hope that serves as a positive sign heading into this game.
Overall, San Jose has won 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Avalanche, including postseason.
Colorado (7-8-2) has lost two straight themselves.