The sequel of this Western Conference story might have a score written by Neil Young rather than Leonard Bernstein, even though "Harvest Moon" does not fit the lunar cycle for Thursday, January 23. The folk rocker is almost sure to be there when the resurgent Winnipeg Jets of his childhood home visit the San Jose Sharks of his new home.
The record of each team as well as the pictured comparisons of available personnel and coaching might suggest a mismatch. Expect something more like the first clash this season—an overtime home win that belonged to Winnipeg last November, in the midst of San Jose's five-game losing streak.
Only two teams in the Western Conference sit lower in the standings than the Jets, but they are not even four games out of the last berth to the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Meanwhile, the Sharks are a whopping 10 games better but still trail the Anaheim Ducks by nine points in the Pacific Division standings with two games in hand.
The first road win in Anaheim during the 2013-14 NHL season was Winnipeg's fifth in a row since coach Paul Maurice took over. Next up is the team with the best home record since the latest lockout ended 12 months ago.
San Jose is 17-2-3 at home this season, won all six 2013 Stanley Cup playoff games and no team earned more home points (39) in the lockout-condensed 2012-13 NHL season. After alternating wins and losses as 2013 ended, this team now has four wins in a row and is 12-1-1 in its last 14 home games.
The Sharks are not going to be able to rest on that home success because they are running out of time to catch the Ducks. However, the Jets are not likely to be overlooked as well as they have been playing.