Sharks look to start second half strong against the Columbus Blue Jackets

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7:30 PST
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13-30-6, 32 points 27-14-6, 60 points
Ouch. 3rd in Western Conference

Television
CSN-CA
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Jackets Cannon
Puck Rakers

NHL All-Star weekend, god bless it, is like watching America's Funniest Home Videos. Enjoyable as a kid, slightly less fun as a teenager, and a downright snoozefest when you hit adulthood. They mystique is gone, YouTube makes those highlights available at the click of a mouse, and Tom Bergeron is...well Tom Bergeron was never funny, but you get the picture.

As much as I enjoy watching a guy like Logan Couture get to live out what was undoubtedly one of his childhood dreams, and handle the weekend with class and dignity, I feel like a little piece of my soul splinters every time I see the twelfth drop pass in the neutral zone end up in the back of the net.

I love hockey for its brutality, its teamwork, its raw passion, and its commitment to perfection. I don't enjoy hockey when it's, oh whats the word-- fun? Right, I apparently don't enjoy hockey when it's fun. Just a bunch of guys going out there to celebrate the sport they love. That makes me a lonely, bitter, calloused old man in his early twenties, desperate for some excitement to liven up the days of monotonous Dancing With The Stars reruns (gah! Not Tom Bergeron again!).

Long story short? It's good to be back. "Maybe not for me" you think aloud as you methodically open another tab in your browser to avoid the awkward spectacle of another blogger thrusting his insecurities onto this convoluted canvas of a computer screen. "No, maybe not for you" the blogger replies. "This one, yes this one, this one is for me."

For you eh? So where do we go from here? This introduction is getting quite self-indulgent don't you think?

"Yeah, it is. For a guy who just extolled the virtues of teamwork and commitment to perfection you're doing a pretty lousy job of pretending like you actually care about those things in front of your readers."

Oh God you're right. What will they ever think of me? Should I delete this whole intro, start anew, and chalk this up as a silent cry for help?

"Nope. Can't do that, no time. America's Funniest Home Videos comes on in ten minutes."

Well what do we do then?

"Insert a page break and pretend like it never happened."

As David Pollak of Working The Corners reported yesterday, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns will be in the lineup tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Burns suffered a helluva scare last Monday against Edmonton when his knee collided with Ales Hemsky's along the sidebards. Burns, who had to be helped off the ice by Colin White following a stoppage in play, looked as if he would miss some significant time leading up to the NHL playoffs. It's no secret how important Burns is to this team from a minutes and offensive production standpoint, and only losing his services for a single game is undoubtedly a great thing to see for San Jose.

That leaves Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat as the major pieces still on the shelf for San Jose, but even that situation should be improving soon. Clowe is questionable for tonight after missing the last five games with facial injuries, but he did skate yesterday and looks to be close to returning. Havlat's injury will take him further out than Clowe-- expected to be out 6-8 weeks, Havlat's sixth week out of the lineup will end this Saturday without any significant update on whether he is on track to hit that timeline-- but it's great to see the Sharks beginning to get their full roster back onto the ice. Last week we covered how dangerous this team will be once it's healthy, so the gameplan still remains to ride out this wave of top six injuries and pick up as many points as possible.

Colombus has been the whipping boy for most of the League this season and enter tonight as just about a lock for the number one pick at next year's Draft. Rumors surrounding the future of Jeff Carter, who was acquired just this past offseason, have begun to swirl as the Jackets season continues to swirl down with it. I felt that Columbus had a decent shot to compete for the eight seed heading into this season (yet another reason to ignore me and head straight to the comments section), but to see them struggle so mightily this year is something that should be considered a good opportunity for a San Jose team looking to get hot after puttering into the break.

The key tonight has to be San Jose's offensive production-- with very little in the way of offensive results coming before the break, putting up a four spot against Columbus is just the result the Sharks need.

The second half begins in earnest. It's still a ways off, but you can smell the thrill of the stretch run beginning to permeate the air.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-1. Goals by McGinn, Couture, Handzus, and Boyle.

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