|25-22-9, 59 points||38-8-9, 85 points|
|4th in Pacific Division||1st in Pacific Division|
Just when you thought the Sharks were half past dead, they come along and play a game that shows you why they are the best team in the NHL.
With a win over
This quote from Lemieux pretty much sums up what the FTF readers have been saying for weeks:
“There wasn’t much emotion in our game at all and we needed something going. You got the group motivated to be a little more physical and that’s what we needed. . . . It’s not about fighting. It’s about being physical, it’s about being intense. And it’s got to start somewhere." - Claude Lemieux via David Pollak, SJ Mercury News
It's unrealistic to believe that the Sharks can be that physical every game. The penalties against would turn into goals sooner rather than later. However, they need to show that "hard to kill" attitude on a more frequent basis if they want to continue to dominate play.
The game wasn't all physical, though. Biggest plus of the game? Marleau showing that he's a dangerous man no matter who he’s on the ice with. As mcmylife pointed out in the game wrap, Marleau had more goals coming into the game than his line mates (Grier and Cheechoo) had combined. No matter, the man can still score. I wouldn’t mind if that line was rolled out a few more times over the current home stand. It’s good to test these things out, just in case. That shorthanded goal was amazing.
With that being said, it's time to look ahead. The Los Angeles Kings will enter the belly of the beast, as they skate on deadly ground tonight at HP Pavilion. The Sharks have fared well against the Kings this year, boasting a 3-0 record over their Pacific Division rivals. However, this is a different Kings team than witnessed earlier in the season. Although a playoff spot was almost always out of reach for the Kings of old (think 2001 on), this new, hard working LA squad is chomping at the bit. They're coming into San Jose after beating Anaheim last night, and they're hungry for their first playoff appearance in five seasons. How hungry you ask? You need a lengthy, diluted metaphor? Alright.
You roll out of bed at 4:40, and walk into the kitchen for breakfast. You're brimming with childish anticipation as pull down your box of pebbles (fruity or cocoa, it's up to you), and pour a bowl only to find that the sugary stuff at the bottom is all that's left of your delicious box of wholesome, rainbow colored goodness. Although that's usually an added bonus to your morning bowl, cereal dust without cereal to go with it is useless. It mocks you.
Turns out that your live in girlfriend ate the last of the pebbles and put the box back empty. You'll deal with that later. You search around the kitchen and find only a box of stale Kashi "Good Friends" cereal (quite possibly the worst food ever forged by mankind) that your parents "gave you" a year ago. Was it a year ago? Could have been longer. Whatever. You look up and see your reflection in the microwave. Due to the exhaustion, you swear that you hear your reflection say: "Don't do it Matt, it's not worth it". You pour a bowl anyways. You eat it. You were that hungry.
The Kings would eat that disgusting Kashi with a smile and ask for seconds. They're only three points out of the 8th spot in the West, and every win matters. This won't be easy.
Who will be in net for the Sharks against this surprising LA team? Even after Nabokov’s 24 save performance last night, the keeper has been submerged in a slump for about three weeks. Although seemingly invincible before, Nabby’s play has been under siege by the FTF readers lately as his shoddy play has been brought into the sun. The sentiment to start playing Boucher over Nabokov has gained some steam around these parts, but barring any significant executive decisions, Nabby is "the guy"for the time being. Regardless of who starts tonight, I still think that Nabby should be our number one goalie. He’s struggled, no doubt about it, but when he’s on his game he’s near unstoppable. That being said, I do think that Boucher should be getting some more starts, one of which should come tonight.
According to WTC, some of the Sharks are recovering from the exit wounds they’ve incurred. McLellan has said that there’s a good possibility that Lukowich, Roenick, and Shelley could all make it back before the current home stand is over. Although the defense has played well through the injuries, having Lukowich back out there with Boyle will be good for my ticker.
If the flow/tone/style of the pre-game seemed a little different today, here’s three reasons why that might be:
- Plank has a midterm, so I took a stab at it. (Good luck man)
- I got a little carried away with the metaphor in the middle.
- The titles of 22 movies staring the same actor are included in the text of the pre-game. The person to both identify the actor (an awkwardly sexy picture of said actor is a necessary part of any answer) and the most movies, wins. Have at it folks.
Predictions: Sharks win 5-2. Goals by Michalek (x2), Seto, Marleau, and Boyle. Anze Kopitar gets pistol whipped (sans pistol) by Doug Murray.