Coyotes are gaining, but Sharks aren't worried

CALGARY — The Phoenix Coyotes have crept to within three points of the Sharks in the Pacific Division standings with both teams now having played the same number of games.

And while a division title for the Coyotes would drop San Jose to the fourth seed in the Western Conference, Sharks coach Todd McLellan is not treating that possibility as particularly troubling.

"Quite frankly, if we're one of the eight to qualify for the playoffs, we'll be happy," McLellan said when asked after San Jose's loss in Vancouver if the Sharks were looking over their collective shoulder yet.

"As we've experienced in the past," he continued, "it's not necessarily all that important to be one, two, three, four — or whatever. It's so tight, teams are so competitive and so close that if you qualify for the tournament, you're very lucky and after that you've got to make good on it."

The Sharks have entered the postseason as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed the past two years, yet managed to win only one series over that period. Still, the emphasis in the past always has been on maintaining home ice advantage as deep into the playoffs as possible.

Players acknowledged that they've been watching the standings, as the Coyotes have won seven consecutive games while the Sharks were winless in four starts.

But they also said they didn't see the value in getting caught up in what other teams were doing.

"I think we just need to concentrate on what we do," Evgeni Nabokov said in Vancouver. "We can't control what other teams do."

— DAVID POLLAK