San Jose Sharks Episode Seven: Return of the Chokers
That's what we'll get to endure for the next five months if the Sharks don't find a way to beat the Los Angeles Kings tonight. After finally, mercifully, shedding the choker-label (at least from the majority of non-mouth breathers) last season, the Sharks have a chance to get it slapped right back on at the hands of their chief rival.
Let's start by stating the obvious: That's a bunch of narrative nonsense that doesn't mean anything to anyone with a functioning brain. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to interact with millions of people whose brains are not running at peak capacity and thus have to deal with them, too. Regardless, go ahead and flaunt that mental superiority as a coping mechanism before you go back and cry for hours and hours and hours.
If this sounds overly pessimistic it's because the Sharks haven't given their fans a reason to be optimistic over the past three games. All things considered they played a darn good game six with the exception of the three or four minutes that the Kings scored three goals. There was controversy about the game-winner, but the Sharks collapsed after it was scored -- which, pardon the cliche, is not something a cup contender can do. Calls are going to go against you in the playoffs; you get paid millions of dollars to overcome 'em.
It does not appear Marc-Edouard Vlasic will play tonight. The Sharks' defense played well enough without him on Monday and they'll need to do it again tonight.
Antti Niemi appears to be the guy getting the start. The Sharks are probably going to need to score more than one goal for the netminder to be a factor in this game.
This is the seventh-straight time the Sharks have played the Kings -- there's not much new information to share. The Sharks need a 60-minute effort like they played for 50 minutes on Monday; but it wouldn't hurt to have a little bit of luck go their way, too.