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[Open Thread] Game Thirty-Six: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings

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18-12-5
2nd in Pacific Division
6th in Western Conference
12-23-2
5th in Pacific Division
15th in Western Conference

First, the good news.  The Sharks are on the road for the next four games, starting tonight in La-La Land.  This usually means success for San Jose.  In fact, Los Tiburones only win against the purple pain (at least to their fans as they've lost seven straight) has come at the Staples Center.  It's little wonder why said fans keep finding their way to San Jose to see their team play; thus far this season three visits... three wins.  Tonight's the second time the teams will be in L.A.

Now, the hopefully good news.  Jonathan Cheechoo is expected back in the lineup tonight after having been out the past seven games with a groin injury.  The question is will he be back... or just back in the lineup?  Before the injury he was MIA far more often than not.

Now, the "um... okay" news.  For whatever reason, the recent comments by general manager Doug Wilson are being interpreted as his staying the course personnel-wise:

"I love our fans.  I'd love them to see us play great every night," Wilson said Sunday before the team's two-day Christmas break.

But, no, he won't let growing clamor from a disenchanted fan base pressure him into veering off the path he has charted for the franchise.

"My pressure as a G.M. is to build a team that has the ability to compete for the Stanley Cup every year," Wilson said.  "So that's my driving force."

The Sharks are going against the grain both at home and on the road this season.

They are the Western Conference's most productive team on the road with 26 points in 17 games.  But there are only two NHL teams - Phoenix and Washington - that have fared worse at home than San Jose, which has 15 points in 18 games.

This helps explain why, despite the team's overall record of 18-12-0-5, Internet chat rooms are filled with fans calling for heads to roll - Coach Ron Wilson's, captain Patrick Marleau's and sometimes the general manager's.

"I talk to a lot of fans and have direct e-mail contact with them," Doug Wilson said.  "I have great understanding of the emotion.  But what we're trying to build and get to is a team they'll be proud of every day - but particularly later in the year."

What part of that sounds like "all is well because I say it is?"  Am I missing something here?  Besides, if Wilson was working on a trade or two, does anyone think he'd come out and say so?  Hardly his style.

Anyway, back to tonight's game.  Reportedly, Devin Setoguchi will be the healthy scratch up front, since he's done little the past several game.  Hey, he's a rookie.  It's going to happen.  The defense is a bit banged up, with Douglas Murray along with Kyle McLaren and Craig Rivet all nursing assorted owies.  They should all be able to play tonight, but how effectively is a question mark.

Tune in tonight for the traveling soap opera that is Sharks hockey.  And whatever else anyone does, please -- no more eggnog for Ryan Clowe.  Not that a DUI is amusing in the least.