Sharks Gameday: Insert Blue Christmas Pun Here

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5:00 PST
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16-11-5, 37 points 15-10-5, 35 points
7th in Western Conference
11th in Western Conference

Television
CSN-CA
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
St. Louis Game Time
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Thursday night's game against Dallas saw the Sharks put in one of their most consistent efforts in a while, with pressure on Dallas for a large majority of the game. Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell provided that much-needed secondary scoring, and Logan Couture scored his NHL-leading fifth game winner on the year (side note: a full third of Couture's 15 goals are game winners. He's taken clutch to a whole new level). There was no lack of chances generated by the Sharks; the problem on Thursday was finishing said chances, with more fans than the Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants has on Facebook. Most of the time, those shots will go in.

However, there are still some concerns. The power play was an abysmal 1-for-7 last night, including squandering a long 5-on-3 in the first. The penalty kill went 0-for-2, which could be seen as even worse. The special teams play was the only reason why the game went to overtime, as the Sharks were fairly dominant at even strength. The primary scoring was nonexistent; the Marleau-Thornton-Heatley line still seems like they took a trip on Wonder Woman's invisible jet and forgot to get off. When the Sharks were up 3-2 in the third, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought that Dallas was definitely going to tie it up and get at least a point.

While getting the two points was great, letting the Stars have the loser point was bad - instead of just one point behind Dallas, the Sharks are two points behind the Pacific-leading Stars. And in a conference where 10 points separate the second seed from the 15th, and where 11 teams are within 5 points of each other, every point counts.

That takes us to the Blues - they have 35 points on the year, good for 11th in the conference and part of a four-way tie. They win in regulation tonight, they jump ahead of the Sharks. The Sharks could even possibly fall to 11th in the conference, with all four of the 35 point teams playing tonight. Sharks win, they could possibly jump up to fifth, perhaps even hopping over Anaheim to be second in the tightly-contested Pacific Division. As with every game the Sharks play this season, there should be no win taken for granted, especially against a team like the Blues, who have historically played well against the Sharks. The Blues have won 63% of their games against the Sharks, only playing three teams better than they do the Sharks (the Tampa Bay Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers, and the now-defunct Cleveland Barons).

The Blues have been hit with injuries, with T.J. Oshie, Roman Polak, and David Perron all out for at least a month. Perron continues to be plagued by the concussion that stemmed from the controversial Joe Thornton hit, for which Thornton was suspended two games for. There will likely be a fair bit of backlash from the St. Louis crowd tonight - it wouldn't be too surprising if Thornton receives the Pronger treatment and is booed every time he touches the puck. Thornton's return will only add to the pre-existing chippiness between the two teams, and tonight will likely see the end of the ten game fightless streak. 

The Sharks need to win this game. It's not a, "if they don't win tonight, they won't make the playoffs," game, but winning tonight with a similar effort to the Dallas game (minus the special teams ineptitude) will be one step towards the consistency that the Sharks are still so desperately looking for. 

Finally, while this technically has nothing to do with tonight's game, and has already been posted elsewhere, I had to include it. In what has become an annual tradition, the Sharks marketing department has put together an absolutely hilarious holiday promo. I think it's fairly safe to say that none of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Ryane Clowe, or Scott Nichol will ever have a career in singing. Ever. Please.

 

Prediction: Sharks win, 4-2. Goals by Thornton, Clowe, Nichol, and Boyle. V-necked sweaters and turtlenecks for all!

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