GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After the Sharks lost to the Dallas Stars, coach Todd McLellan talked about the need for his team to be in playoff mode.
With good reason, it turns out.
The Sharks have seven games left in the regular season. Win four of them, and they should have no trouble advancing to the postseason party. Win fewer, and they could be more dependent on the shortcomings of others.
To add to the win-or-go-home pressure, all seven of the games -- starting Monday night here against the Phoenix Coyotes -- are against opponents who have as much to gain or lose as San Jose.
While the fifth-seeded Sharks do not face any of the Western Conference's three division leaders, that might not necessarily be a good thing. The Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks are all entrenched as the top seeds, their postseason positioning secure.
Instead, the Sharks will be facing teams that are either competing against them for home-ice advantage in the first round or pushing hard to make the final cut, perhaps at San Jose's expense.
Even the Coyotes.
One of two teams the Sharks will face twice, Phoenix may be in the 11th spot when the teams meet at Jobing.com Arena, but the Coyotes are only two points out of eighth.
At the other extreme are the Los Angeles Kings. The defending Stanley Cup champions -- whom the Sharks also play twice -- are all but a mathematical lock to make the postseason but are still battling San Jose for home-ice advantage that comes with being the fourth seed.
Both the Kings and Sharks have plenty of incentive based on their regular-season performances. San Jose is 14-1-5 at HP Pavilion and 7-12-2 on the road. The difference for Los Angeles is almost as drastic as the Kings are 16-4-1 at home and 8-10-3 elsewhere.
Four of San Jose's seven remaining games are at home, starting Tuesday night against the Kings; Los Angeles has six games left to play, evenly divided between the Staples Center and elsewhere.
Three teams clustered just below the Sharks in the standings -- the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets -- finish up the next homestand, and all have hopes of catching San Jose.
On the other hand, sportsclubstats.com says there's only a 0.5 percent chance the Sharks will win the Cup should they qualify for the postseason.
Sharks (21-13-7) at Phoenix (18-16-7), 7 p.m. CSN Plus