Despite Loss, Sharks Still Have Inside Track

The Detroit Red Wings looked powerful and playoff-ready in handing the Sharks a lopsided 4-1 loss last night at Joe Louis Arena. But if the Red Wings think they can take away the Sharks'  home playoff advantage, they're going to need a bigger boat.

The Sharkies are still tops in the Western Conference point standings, which will determine playoff seedings. NHL teams receive two points for a win, one point for an overtime "shootout" loss, and zero points for a regulation time loss. So while the Boston Bruins, for instance, have the same number of wins as the Sharks, San Jose still holds sole first place standing in the NHL with 91 points. The Red Wings improved their point total to 88 with the win, leaving the Western Conference a close race.

Home playoff advantage would be particularly important if the Western Conference championship came down to Sharks-Red Wings, because this season the home team has always won that contest. Detroit and San Jose are not scheduled to meet again, unless they should face off in the playoffs. So the regular season series stays tied at two apiece, with the Sharks wining twice at The Tank and the Red Wings winning both games at Joe Louis.

Red Wings left winger Henrik Zetterburg summed up the situation best, telling the Detroit Free Press, "They're still ahead, and we have 21 games to play." The Sharks are still ahead, and barring a meltdown on the ice, the playoff way is still through San Jose.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who himself has never won at Joe Louis Arena.

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