Sharks? More like guppies
Consider this the first of many, many, posts about our favorite hockey team; the San Jose Sharks. Why the Sharks you ask? Well why the fuck not. As our beloved Los Tiburones get ready to play the Wild in Minnesota let’s take a quick look at the standings. Yikes, 5-4-1 in their last 10. Not exactly how you want to head down the stretch for the final 20 games of the regular season (unless you’re the Islanders, then that’s considered a hot streak). The Wild haven’t been any better, going 4-4-2 and falling out of the playoffs if the season ended today. Despite the fact that the Wild are the best defensive team in the West, it’s hard to see them leapfrogging any of the playoff contenders when they can’t score. Case in point, their 167 goals for on the season is the second lowest total in the entire league (Phoenix is the only team worse at 164). The Wild have never been a team that scores a lot and losing Gaborik for most of the year (and being unable to trade him for help at the deadline) has really hurt them.
Back to the Sharks though. What’s been worse than the record has been the overall lackluster performance by some of the team’s stars lately. Marleau, Thornton, and Setoguchi have a combined 4 goals and 3 assists in the 5 games since that embarrassing 4-1 loss in Detroit. If you’re a Stanley Cup Contender you need to be getting more than that from your top line when it’s healthy and intact, as it has been all year. Their lack of production has head coach Todd McLellan shuffling his lines for tonight, according to David Pollack on his Working the Corners blog. Sure, injuries are playing a part in the reshuffling but so is the lack of consistent production. Don’t believe us? Well, why is McLellan leaving the second line alone? Because those guys have been producing, and you don’t mess something that works.
What’s been causing the problems of late? We’re not really sure. Injuries certainly haven’t helped. Here’s a quick list of missing players: Roenick, Mitchell, Goc, Grier, Blake, Nabakov, Lemuiex. That’s probably a pretty good explanation for why the 3rd and 4th lines have been awful for most of the year, but it doesn’t do much to tell is why the big guys have been so cold recently. Maybe this team, first in the west (tied with Detroit but 2 games in hand), and second overall (1 pt behind Boston with 3 games in hand) is just bored. Ummm, yeah, that’s it. Whatever helps us sleep better at night.
So what’s in store for tonight? Who knows. Weird things tend to happen when the Sharks and Wild get together, whether it’s Patrick Marleau saving the game in regulation before winning it in the shootout, the tragic Torrey Mitchell-Kurtis Foster hit, or Boucher allowing a goal from center ice and helping the Sharks blowing a 3 goal lead at home. Our Prediction? Since the Sharks have been a team with multiple personalities lately, we’re going to make multiple predictions (no, that’s not a copout at all). If the best team in the NHL shows up for the first time in a couple weeks they should handle the Wild easily, so the prediction there is a 5-2 Sharks win. Should the “other” Sharks team show up tonight we like the Wild 2-1 in one of the least exciting games of the season.