Sharks Gameday: The Spotlight



7:30 PST
11-10-2, 24 points 9-6-4, 22 points
7th in Western Conference
11th in Western Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Second City Hockey

Before I come out and say that it shouldn't be hard for the Sharks to get up for this one, I have to point out that both Plank and I completely blanked on today's gameday. So, let's hope the Sharks are more prepared for this one than we were.

It's going to be pretty hard to be unprepared for this game, as the national media has highlighted this match as an important one early in the season. The storylines are all here: Chicago eliminated San Jose last year in the WCF's, Niemi is now a Shark, etc. But neither team has been as dominant as most expected them to be.

As a result of normal roster turnover and abnormal cap issues, Chicago is a much different team than they were during their 2010 run. The core is still there, but many of the players that gave the Sharks and their fans headaches have moved elsewhere. They're dangerous, but they haven't been dominant up to this point; with four games in hand over San Jose the Blackhawks are a mere two points ahead in the standings.

The Sharks haven't exactly been playing dominant hockey lately either; they have dropped three straight games and have looked miserable in stretches. "We haven't played well," said Sharks forward Logan Couture yesterday after practive. "We were alright in stretches in Dallas and Colorado but we haven't been able to put together a complete effort for a few games now. Obviously against Columbus we weren't very good. At all. But we've had a few good practices here the last few days."

The Sharks practices have been more intense lately, and it appears that the team is working hard to shake the current funk. A win against Chicago would do wonders in terms of reestablishing the team's confidence.

Turco is in nets for Chicago, but we're not sure if it will be Niittymaki or Niemi for the Sharks. My gut says Niittymaki, because he gives the team the best chance to win. However, McLellan might want to give Niemi the opportunity here. We'll keep you updated. (It's Niemi, per WTC)

Chicago is still a good team, and the Sharks had no trouble getting up to play LA. Let's hope they bring the same kind of effort tonight.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-2. Goals by Couture, Marleau, Setoguchi and Heatley. All on the power play.

Go Sharks.