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Sharks, Red Wings encounter rough waters

The San Jose Sharks find themselves on the playoff bubble.

After first-place Las Vegas, there are four teams bunched together in the Pacific Division all within two points of each other, including the Sharks (26-16-7), offering them little wiggle room as they arrive in Detroit to face the Red Wings on Wednesday.

In the case of Detroit, you could argue that the bubble has already burst for the Red Wings, even if they refuse to see the handwriting on the wall.

"We put ourselves in a tough position, but we could take ourselves out of it, too," Detroit defenseman Trevor Daley told Mlive.com. "It could be real good around here."

Currently, it isn't very good at all in this self-proclaimed Hockeytown. The Wings (19-21-8) sit 15 points behind third-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division, and their wild-card hopes aren't much more promising. Detroit is 12th overall in the East and 10 points out of postseason position.

"You know you've got to go on a run right now," Daley said. "Now is the time to get it done. There's still a lot of games left with a lot of points out there. It's one game, one shift, one period at a time but we realize how desperate this is right now.

"The time's right now. We've got to get it done right now."

The Wings recognize the fine line they skate every night, and that too often, they finish up on the wrong side of that line. They hope an influx of players returning from lower-body injuries may change that. Daley and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm could all be back in the lineup.

"Between Trevor, Abby and Helmer, I think there's a great chance that all three will play," Wings coach Jeff Blashill told Mlive.com.

With a 2-5-1 slate in their last eight games prior to the NHL All-Star break, the Wings weren't exactly getting it done, but then again, neither were the Sharks. They've been treading water of late, going 2-3-1 in their last six contests.

The Sharks welcomed back No. 1 goalie Martin Jones for Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jones had missed the previous four games because of a lower-body injury and had posted a dismal .886 save percentage in 13 games since returning from a previous ailment, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer insisted all was good with his goalie.

"We were very cautious with this," DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. "We could have rushed him back last week. He would have played. We wanted him to be 100 percent to avoid any kind of setback."

The struggles of Jones is part of a team-wide slippage on defense. At the 24-game mark, San Jose had allowed an NHL-low 50 goals. In 26 games since, they permitted 85 goals, fourth-worst in the NHL.

"We're giving up too many goals," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski told the Mercury News. "It's a lot of uncharacteristic plays. It's just that commitment to doing it right all night long that's going to give us a chance to win."
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