A familiar name comes back to San Jose as Kings face Sharks


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7:30 PST
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16-14-4, 36 points

(34 Games Played)

18-10-3, 39 points

(31 Games Played)

9th in Western Conference 3rd in Western Conference
Television
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Jewels From The Crown
Battle of California


Sutter. That name either makes you think of a Sharks coach who left on bad terms, or the four packs of wine you can pick up from your local convenience store. The former is Darryl Sutter, the latter is Sutter Home. While we'll be talking about Darryl, we won't judge you if you twist the top off some individual servings of moscato. It is the holidays, after all.

If you've been around the Sharks for a while, you're sure to remember Coach Darryl Sutter. The stern, mean-muggin' man behind the bench is a recognizable face for this franchise, one that really started the Sharks' decade long run of regular season dominance. However, the things that have plagued the Sharks in recent years were also problems for Sutter then too; no matter how well he got his team to play in the regular season, they fell victim for alternating first and second round playoff exits in four playoff seasons.

Playoff failures obviously had something to do with Sutter's eventual firing, but it was a disastrous 2002-2003 season that drove the final nail into the coffin. Sutter, who had been able to motivate his team with his intense coaching style for so long, obviously lost his pull in the dressing room, and with the Sharks underachieving mightily, then Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi gave Sutter the axe.

Which is incredible if you think about it, since Dean Lombardi (now with the Kings) just hired Sutter to right the ship in Los Angeles. You can't write stories like this, folks. Fired for being the problem, hired almost a decade later to be the solution. By the same person. Incredible.

Will Sutter be able to right the ship? I can't be certain of that. Sutter's teams have always been in the grind-it-out mold, and if he's going to bring that workman like style to LA, I don't see them improving all that significantly. The Kings' problem this year hasn't been preventing goals, it's been scoring them. Right now, they're last in the Western Conference in goals scored. Not an issue I see Sutter coming in to fix.

San Jose, on the other hand, has had no problem scoring as of late; a seven goal outburst against Tampa on Wednesday night gives them 93 total markers on the year, an impressive total especially considering how inept they have been at points during the season. From a goals allowed standpoint, they're third.

Those numbers make me glad that no one in the San Jose organization pulled the trigger on any drastic coaching moves when the team was struggling. Now winners of three straight and with solid numbers to back up their more than decent record, you start to see why coach Todd McLellan kept talking about luck being a factor. Earlier in the season, the Sharks had none. Now, it seems like they are starting to see the dice roll a bit more favorably... just take a look at Patrick Marleau's goal last night and tell me that's not the case.

This game is going to be one ripe with story lines, even though Marleau is the only player that Sutter ever coached while he was with the Sharks. Still, look forward to a good number of closeups on Sutter throughout the game. Yeesh.

Well, I'll just deal with that the same way I deal with other people I don't want to see around Christmas...You have any of that wine left?

Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by Burns, Vlasic and McGinn. Hey, did we mention we have new t-shirt designs featuring all three of those players?

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