|41-8-9, 91 points||39-13-8, 86 points|
|1st in Pacific Division||1st in Central Division
[Editor's Note]: Remember your SPG Picks for a chance to win a Sharks Banner courtesy of Carrol's Cove. Also, a certain someone will be making an appearance at The Joe tonight. The media's going to be all over that, but frankly I'm more interested in the Sharks winning the game. Monsieur Lemieux's view on the matter can be found here.
Riddle me this ladies and gentlemen- how many season series have the Sharks won against Detroit in the history of the franchise?
If you said zero, you're a hyperbolic ticking time bomb with a bright future here come April; two and you're a goddamn saint sent to buoy up the rest of us in the aforementioned month of rapid hair loss.
The answer is one. One freaking series. And the year when it occurred (06-07)? Second round loss. I don't think I need to remind you of the team, but if the name Robert Lang means anything to you you're on the right track.
Coming across this information on a Sunday night is just about the worst start to the week you can imagine. Unfortunately I started to dig a little deeper and began to sift through every single year of regular season hockey these two teams have played. I'm sure a brief review courtesy of ESPN or NHL.com would have served it's purpose, but when you're despondent to the point of despair, wallowing in the muck for just a little longer can turn up a diamond in the rough right?
Funny thing about stats though- sometimes the big picture is just a convenient hook to get you to click on, "Continue Reading This Post." Looking at the post lockout numbers, well, things have improved now haven't they:
Exhale Timmy, we're going to be okay
Detroit's one helluva team- a class organization in every sense of the word, one that had to lop off around 40 million dollars once the salary cap age hit, and yet still managed to remain at the top of the standings. We've all seen the Cup rings, marveled at how they can turn a 171st draft pick into one of the best players in the NHL today, cursed their ability to come back in the waning seconds of the third period, and shook our collective head at Ken Holland's ability to convince star players to take the hometown discount.
But none of that matters tonight. With the playoffs one mere breath away, and a series against the Wings a fervent possibility, the Sharks have an opportunity to establish a mental edge over a team that has held that edge for 17 straight seasons. Tonight isn't a playoff game. It damn well should be.
Last time we went to The Joe we got massacred. It was ugly, it was brutal; it left us with a foul taste in our mouth, and yet we realized that both teams hadn't teed off on each other fully rested. A month later, in the midst of a brutal Californian winter (mid 50's or something, atrociously cold at any rate), the Big Red Machine came to town and tried to go toe to toe with the Sharks.
In what was unquestionably the greatest game of this stellar season, and one that may go down as the number one contender for greatest non-playoff game in franchise history, Detroit and San Jose traded punches till the final whistle. And when the dust settled? Instead of a hollow ache in your stomach, you had jubiliation. Instead of fighting for words to explain your emotional state, you let the mercurial cool slosh around your tongue. Nothing needed to be uttered; it was all layed out before you, a golden compass pointing straight towards the Promised Land.
So tonight when the puck drops, and the nerves and the anxiety and the utter disdain for all the Wings have done during the last seventeen years hits you like a Douglas Murray shoulder shot to the kisser, remember this- the Wings are fighting to regain that advantage. When a half-filled Joe Louis Arena musters up enough energy to cheer a Henrik Zetterberg goal and the Sharks go down early once again in the first period, remember this- HP Pavilion holds the advantage. And when you think that all the life experience that pervades that locker room like Bingo Night at the local nursing home may be an advantage, well, it might be a valid point.
As for me? I'll take the hungry bear fighting for respect amongst his peers over the fat and content one who knows in the back of his mind that a loss tonight, tomorrow, and in the postseason will be forgotten in a few months time underneath the titanic accolades of seasons past.
I'll take that every day of the week.