Sharks Gameday: I've Got Those Blueline Blues

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7:30 PST
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27-23-4, 58 points 35-10-9, 79 points
11th in Western Conference
1st in Western Conference
Television
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Hockey Wilderness

Brad Staubitz practiced on the backend on Friday. He's obviously not going to play defense tonight, but that's a good indicator of where the blueline's health is at right now.

Losing Vlasic to what I believe is a left knee injury puts quite the strain on the capabilities of San Jose. I would argue it's almost as detrimental as losing Dan Boyle, in that the Sharks are now without a premier shut-down defenseman. Boyle is obviously the best blueliner San Jose has on the roster, but if he returns before Vlasic (a likely possibility), McLellan is faced with a two-pronged decision-- a) match Boyle-Partner X up against the opposing team's top line, which will make Boyle's offensive capabilities less of a factor since he will be facing much tougher competition or b) throw out a combination of Murray, Blake, Huskins, Leach, Worcester Call Up against the aforementioned top line and hope for the best. No matter which way you cut it there isn't a premier stopper out there outside of Vlasic, and that's not an enticing possibility if this injury turns out to be anything serious.

As TCY mentioned earlier, I made a vow to inflict severe bodily hurt on anyone who mentioned trading Vlasic on Fear The Fin. Not because I don't enjoy debate, but because I think you're absolutely insane to even consider the possibility. He's 22 years old, signed for three more years at a $3.1 M cap hit, faces the toughest competition every single night, and is currently sixth in James Mirtle's Rod Langway Award watch. Just something to chew on whenever you get the trade deadline itch.

As for the rest of the blueline, Murray was hurt in the Hawks game as well, and as Evilducks pondered earlier, you have to wonder if he even would have finished the game had Vlasic not been out. He's a durable player (much like Vlasic, who's missed all but one game in his career) so I'm not overly worried about it, but it will be something to watch intently nonetheless. The hope is that he doesn't euphemistically describe an ailment to the coaching staff in order to keep his spot on Team Sweden, but that's just throwing a potential scenario out there-- pure speculation, and I'd have to watch at least three more games to see if it's even a possibility.

If Boyle and Vlasic don't play tonight, two Worcester defenseman will be called up. Safe money says it's Joslin and Demers, but I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Moore get some reps at the NHL level. He's had a great year thus far.

Finally, I understand your anger with the Chicago loss. Giving up three goals to start the first period isn't an inspiring performance by any means, and it's a slight concern that they came out so flat in such a highly publicized game. But take a step back for a moment and put the season into context. While I do think Chicago is the better team (damn near heresy in these parts), there's no reason to believe the Sharks can't beat them in a seven game series based off what I have seen in the four games these teams have played this season-- three of them have been competitive, and a bounce here or there can turn the tide of a series quicker than you can say Blues-Sharks 2000.

From some of the conversation I've heard, you'd think the Collectors came into HP Pavilion with the Seeker swarm, paralyzed the team, and walked off without a fight. Once again, I don't mind a debate and welcome anyone who wants to make this case. I just think you're jumping off the deep end before the pool has even been filled.

Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Marleau, Blake, and Setoguchi. Less prediction, more observation-- congratulations to the Wild for rebounding from that awful start. I'm hoping Todd Richards can get them in the playoffs.

 

Go Sharks.

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