And so it begins.
The faces of hockey fans across the country have begun to change. Sunken eye sockets pay homage to Trevor Reznik, filled with pain and exhaustion-- others glow like the urine of a cow residing in Chernobyl, full of hope and faith.
Like a Duraflame log, we crackle with excitement. Like a dog's log, others crumble with the stink of a lost season.
But never mind those weary souls. This next week is a huge one for San Jose, filled with opponents who are in the midst of fighting for a postseason berth in the ever-tight Western Conference. It's a time to establish some momentum heading into The Months That Shall Not Be Named, as well as send some messages in the event that thedo meet one of these squads in April.
Desperation. It's a clever word, one used rather ambiguously by sports broadcasters and coaching staff to explain victories at this time of year. Team X was desperate and therefore won the game. Does this hold weight? Maybe, maybe not. But no matter where you end up on the totem pole of attributing results to emotional intangibles, the fact remains that the next nine days are booked with Western Conference teams who are on the bubble in one form or another. And bubble boys usually get pissed when you come into their house and try to dictate how the game will be played.
For the record, it's Moops.
Nashville at home tomorrow, a throwaway in terms of relative importance against Florida on Saturday. The Preds have one of the better bluelines and creepier coaches in the West, so a tight-checking affair will likely be on the docket. They have managed to hold on to a bottom seed for awhile now, and will be looking to gain some breathing room when the pressure really starts to crank up two weeks from now.
Then the Sharks hit a nice lil' roadie, four games against four teams that need points. Anaheim and Dallas have struggled since the Olympics ended and have begun to fall out of striking distance of the top eight-- while the game against San Jose may not effectively put their seasons in the morgue, it's at the point where it will put them on some very serious life support. Huge games for both clubs, even if they manage to reel off a set of wins until then.
If San Jose takes two points against Anaheim on Sunday, they will have won every single game against the Ducks this year. While this may not be an effective remedy to forget what happened in April of 2009 ("That's what crack pipes are for Jimmy"), it would go a long way towards helping me stop throwing feces filled balloons into the street from my roof. It's a win-win for everyone, really.
Following the division rivals, San Jose tees off against Calgary and Vancouver. Theare in the eight seed by a point right now, while the are battling Colorado for the Northwest title. Again, same situation. Desperate teams looking for any standings points they can get.
Now this isn't the only big stretch San Jose is going to undergo until April-- there are a lot of potential Western Conference playoff teams still left on the schedule. However, with the Sharks currently sporting a spiffy pair of Captain Comeback underpants, it will be a good test to see if they can start making some noise early in the first period and establish a rhythm through sixty minutes.
Furthermore, as the games left to be played begin to dwindle down, the playoff picture will become much clearer-- right now, multiple teams are left with varying chances of breaking into the playoffs, and that is the silver lining for San Jose. Each opposing team is going to be functioning at their full potential. There should be no reason that the Sharks catch one of them sleepwalking through a tilt.
As always, Sports Club Stats is a great resource at this time of year for checking up on who might end up where.
Man your battlestations bitches-- the playoff push is on.