Sharks Gameday: A Look At The Past, A Glimpse of The Future
|26-12-4, 56 points||32-5-5, 69 points|
|1st in Northwest Division||1st in Pacific Division |
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It's sort of funny how things work out sometimes- we look at how the Sharks responded to their previous 3+ goal losses, and sure enough we get the Flames and Wings back to back to round out the week.
Call in sick to work on Friday and get the party started tonight. This should be a great weekend.
[Editor's Note]: Remember your SPG Picks for a chance to win a Sharks Banner courtesy of Carrol's Cove.
The Sharks responded well to the Flames loss, and dominated the majority of each 60 minute affair against the Oilers, 'Nucks, and Lightning respectively. It was a worthy response to a game that raised some pretty ugly questions about character, work-ethic, and focus.
So in homage to the Sharks focus and my lack of it (we're a pendulum, see), let's take a look at the news of Torrey Mitchell's return. We're in a bit of a quandary going forward, but these are my proposed lines once he returns (which I assume will be close to the time JR hits the ice as well):
1) Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi: Nothing too much to dive into here.
2) Michalek-Pavelski-Clowe: I loved this line's dynamic at the beginning of the season, and although Joe Pavs has been feevty-feevty in terms of production since he's returned from injury, the ASG break will give him time to get up to speed.
3) Roenick-Goc-Cheechoo: Although Grier has been a madman scoring lately, I see him fulfilling more of a checking line role going forward. There's a lot of things to like about this line. One, JR and Cheech can grind in the corners and Goc has been a very underrated defensive player for us. Two, it can produce a lot offensively with Goc developing into the playmaker we drafted him to be, Cheech regaining his sniper form, and Roenick chipping in when needed.
4) Staubitz/Shelley-Mitchell-Grier: If Grier continues to impress offensively, Cheech/JR may switch roles with him. For the time being I don't see Plihal, Cavanagh or Semenov cracking into the lineup because we're pretty loaded with depth.
As much as Staubitz has impressed me (in many ways he's more desirable than Shelley for a multitude of reasons*), his time with the big club is coming to an end once everyone returns. There's just no roster space available.
* Corsi numbers, the fact fighters aren't really utilized as you near and enter the playoffs, better hands, superior speed etc.
May be getting ahead of ourselves, but it's exciting nonetheless.
The Flames have continued their winning ways, and the tilt proves to be a good barometer to see if the Sharks have learned their lesson. Tonight is the first step in truly establishing HP Pavilion as a place where no opposing team wants to play. A first half record is one thing (definitely an amazing one at that), but the second half is where San Jose can prove that The Tank should be avoided at all costs.
In fact, that's probably the biggest key for tonight. The Sharks have played fairly well on the road, but if they can drive home the point that HP Pavilion is, for all intents and purposes impregnable, it should go a long way in the psychological war they will be engaging in soon.
Prediction: Sharks win 4-2. Goals by Marleau, Cheech, Boyle and Pavelski.