20-13-5, 45 points
22-14-1, 45 points
6th in Western Conference
4th in Western Conference
It's hard to believe that something as simple as a number can motivate so many. But last night at 12:00 AM, when the page moved from 2010 to 2011, billions of people promised to make themselves better through exercise, eating better, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, working harder or having a better outlook on life.
New Year's resolutions are amazing when you think about them. Although there really isn't anything different about the day itself besides the need to go and buy a new kitty cat calendar, it's a time that's inspiring to the masses.
The San Jose Sharks are a group who could use some inspiration themselves, and I'm wondering if some of the players have set some new goals for themselves to begin 2011.
The recent stretch of play by the team has been a troubling one; not only has the defense been as porous as expected, but the offense isn't scoring and the team can't close out games or hold leads. Even in Chicago, when the team escaped with a 5-3 win, the Sharks blew a two goal lead in just 23 seconds to close the second period. If the Sharks had gone on to lose, I'd be afraid for the safety of the city. Thankfully, Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe were able to cap 2010 with two goals and a win.
The problems all started with the tragedy endured at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings less than a week ago, and the fans have been on suicide watch ever since. Tonight, the Sharks face off against Los Angeles again with redemption on the brain. The teams find themselves the same place they were just a few days ago. Tied in points, looking to make a statement against a division rival.
It was LA's forecheck that did the damage against San Jose earlier in the week. Relentless and forceful, the Kings pinned San Jose into their own end for most of the first period, limiting the team to one of their lowest shot totals of any period this year. At one point, shots were 15-1 in favor of the Kings.
Remember the Sharks' mantra that it's their work in the first and second that pays off in the third? Well, that's exactly what other teams are doing to San Jose right now. If the Sharks really fancy themselves as the biggest and strongest squad in the league, they've got to turn the tables quickly. Play a strong forty minutes, and cap those forty with a strong twenty. It's the only way they'll succeed. Commit to work harder.
It might not be easy, but New Year's Resolutions aren't supposed to be.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Couture, Setoguchi and Demers.