Sharks Gameday: Time To Send A Message?

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6:35 PST
50_medium
49-15-11, 109 points 43-26-6, 92 points points
1st in Pacific Division 1st in Northwest Division
Television
CSN-BA
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Matchsticks & Gasoline
Battle of Alberta

Although I'm currently engaging in a vicious inner debate as to who I would pick in the possible first round match-up between Calgary and Columbus for this year's edition of Playoff Pick Em!, there is a chance the Sharks will lock horns after tonight with the Flames in the near future.

So is tonight the night to send a message?

Frankly, I don't think so. Attempting to muscle up against the Flames with the current roster looking thinner than my chances of scoring a date sometime in the next two months is not the route I would take, nor do I expect McLellan too. The problem is Calgary will most likely come out with their usual zeal for banging bodies on the boards, especially with Vancouver nipping at their heels for the Northwest Division title. How do the Sharks counter that?

By making them pay on the powerplay. I think this is a good precedent, no? Through FTF's thoughtful coercion found in that post, the stagnant power play went on to explode for four goals with the man advantage. Looking at the numbers however, that might prove to be more difficult in the Saddledome:

Calgary Flames Penalty Kill

Location GP TS TS/G PK% Rank
Home 38 140 3.68 86.4 4th
Away 37 187 5.05 81.3 12th

While this is generally true across the league (teams are penalized more often on the road then at home), Calgary is the league leader in terms of penalties taken differential when at home vs. the road.

Maybe it's a good thing Patty is taking some time off during this Western swing. In fact, assuming the Sharks stay ahead of the Wings in the race for the one seed by the time this weekend rolls around (and even if they don't), does the brass keep Patty scratched considering the next four games will most likely be extremely physical affairs? This isn't to say that Marleau is soft or unable to compete in those environments- he has consistently shown that he is able to take the body and thrive.

But with the playoffs looming, is it wise to take a chance of aggravating an injury that seems to be relatively minor?

Doesn't seem like it to me.

Prediction: Sharks win 3-2. Goals by Shelley, who notches a hat trick. Funny thing is, he wasn't the only former Shark enforcer who had great hands. Oh 1998, you were the best of times.

 

Go Sharks.

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