Sharks Gameday: Home Stand City

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7:30 PST
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10-10-5, 25 points 19-6-4, 42 points
12th in Western Conference
1st in Western Conference
Television
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
St. Louis Game Time

After two straight months of a heavy road schedule, San Jose returned to The Tank on Wednesday night for 64 days of some serious home cooking. Seven road games, with the longest trip being two game stints in Dallas/Chicago and Los Angeles/Phoenix respectively. The other three are quick one game flights to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

As if they haven't loaded up on points already, the next two months are a great opportunity to avoid the rigors of the road, stay healthy, and cash in on standings points that will allow them to ease the burden off the players who end up going to the Olympic games once they return. It's a far cry from do or die of course, but the potential to really do some points damage is ripe for the taking. Should be an exciting stretch to see.

David Pollak of Working The Corners had a very informative article yesterday on two points of note-- an unspecified injury to Jed Ortmeyer that puts him in the doubtful category for tonight's game against St. Louis, and some more information on what to expect out of Jay Leach. I'll touch on the Ortmeyer situation in a few, but here's some thoughts on the Leach move:

First, the plan is to keep him in San Jose in a role similar to the one Alexei Semenov played, a seventh defenseman for spot duty. Leach will be wearing No. 28 once he gets here, which is supposed to be sometime tonight.

Second, the out-of-pocket cost is minimal.

Pollak goes on to crunch the numbers, but essentially San Jose will be on the hook for roughly $158,000 against the salary cap if Leach remains on the roster for the rest of the season. With all of the cap finagling Doug Wilson has been doing in running the Worcester shuttle, it may mean that Brad Staubitz will be exposed to waivers sometime in the near future to clear the team of a second healthy scratch. Carrying two players in this role will make it a little bit tougher for Wilson to make a move at the deadline, and if he ends up stashing Staubitz in the minors it's a net gain from a cap standpoint. At this point in the year it may not be worth the risk considering teams are looking for bodies and would likely jump at the opportunity to pick up an average fourth liner, but it's still something to consider due to the fact that Wilson has made no attempt to hide the fact that he's juggling salary. I've asserted all season that the blueline could stand to improve, but Jay Leach isn't the answer here-- a short term call up of Demers/Moore/Callahan will likely yield the same level of competence in this area, if not a bit more. Hell, Staubitz was the backup plan on defense when the Sharks were rolling six.

That being said, I'm not adverse to the acquisition. Having a spare part that can slide in to spell a starter is always a good thing to have around. It just seems strange considering Wilson's approach to cap management the first two months of the year, and raises a pint-sized red flag that something may be brewing.

As for the Ortmeyer "tune-up" or whatever the appropriate coaching euphemism for injury is nowadays, McLellan didn't state who the organization would call up but I assume Couture is getting the nod, with Ferriero the dark horse to fill a wing as the Sharks have four centers on the roster right now. I wouldn't move Malhotra off the second line considering he has gelled with Clowe (eighteen points in eighteen games, including a seven game point streak-- talk about earning your spot) and Pavelski the last couple games. McGinn and Nichol have also established some chemistry in the cycle, but I throw that to the wayside and go with something like this on the bottom six:

McGinn-Couture-Setoguchi

McLaren-Nichol-Mitchell

In all honesty, those lines are sicker than SARS. Does McLellan pull the trigger on it? Hard to say considering he's been a big believer in earning your way up the lineup this season. We may see Nichol skating alongside McGinn and Setoguchi because of that fact, but there's two reasons I like the way this is set up.

For one, Torrey Mitchell has been getting bodied off the puck an awful lot since coming back from his 108 regular season game vacation. It's to be expected to some degree, but at this point in the year he's better suited to play with two guys who are able to throw the body around and not be expected to score at a consistent rate. Concurrently, this gives Couture an opportunity to showcase his playmaking skills with a first line forward (Setoguchi) and teammate who he's had a long history with (McGinn)-- he also can manage the low cycle with excellent body positioning on the glass, which will open up the ice for the aforementioned shooters. I really can't find any noteworthy reason not to go this route other than "he hasn't earned it." I understand that thought process to some degree, but even with all of the intangibles it emphasizes in the locker room, you probably have a better chance to win the game tonight with this lineup.

One George Zimmer guarantee says Zalewski gets the call-up today and makes this whole exercise moot.

[Update]: Vesce gets the call up, and will play on the fourth line-- Nichol centers McGinn and Setoguchi. George Zimmer has failed me twice now.

*****

A mini Off The Post session ends us here today-- the ol' email account has been getting a little backed up, and I'm loathe to fire off seventeen Fanposts in a row (more like three). At any rate, here's the goods.

  • Alex Stalock is auctioning off a game used helmet that commemorates six Worcester firefighters who lost their lives during a prolonged five alarm fire ten years ago. A worthy cause, and a classy act by our minor league affiliate to acknowledge the service of these brave men.
  • Fear The Fin is in the running for best Sharks blog at The NHL Arena, along with other notable Sharks blogs that can be found in our left hand sidebar. There's a few avid commenters who have a blogging horse in the running as well, so get over there, sign up, and vote for your five favorites (no idea how they missed Chen-- that's a questionable omission). While you're at it, give Sleek some love too.
  • Dan Boyle has a new post that deals with being asked the question, "Are the Sharks peaking too early?", as well as giving a nod to the role players that have contributed to the team's current success.
  • In case you missed them yesterday-- a look at which San Jose Sharks may be included on various Olympic rosters can be found here. Official selections come at the end of this month.
  • Everyone is slowly getting on board the McGinn bandwagon, but let it be known that I'm driving this thing. Yes, I'm aware I don't own his cheering rights, and sure, I'm being childish. But I don't care. He's been my guy since day one and you can't have him. We're going to run away together and get married. He told me so.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-2. Goals by Setoguchi, Thornton, Vlasic, and McGinn, who also scores a nice restraining order following the game.

 

Go Sharks.

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