After starting an Eastern Conference road trip out with a shootout win, the San Jose Sharks made their way down to South Beach. They need to be careful not to look at their visit with the Florida Panthers as a vacation Thursday, January 16.
The Sharks have shown they will get overconfident against bad teams. The Panthers are the fourth-worst team in the NHL—so bad their coach got fired. The reason why they are only 10-9-4 at home this season is clear from the pictured personnel examination—lack of talent.
However, Florida is a respectable 7-8-3 vs. Western Conference teams. They are capable of catching San Jose napping. They are also very much alive for the Stanley Cup playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings are just three points behind the Sharks in the Pacific Division standings. The division-leading Anaheim Ducks are 13 points ahead with just two more games played.
San Jose must take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule in the second of three games in a four-game stretch against teams with point percentages in the bottom half of the NHL. Coming out with two points here could decide home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs in what is a tight race in the Western Conference.