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Going their way
Everything falling into place, but real test is months' away
12/1/08 - By Paul Krill

Last year's Sharks team reminded me of the Brooklyn Dodgers - winning but never when it mattered most. This year's Sharks team, however, reminds me of the Steve Young-era 49ers.

Why? Because like that team, it seems like everything is going the Sharks' way. The 49ers of those days (and I am not a 49ers fan) always seemed to have everything move in their direction. Playing half their schedule against usually weak NFC West competition, the 49ers were able to cruise through a good chunk of the regular season with catches by Jerry Rice, interceptions by Merton Hanks, things like that. The wins piled up.

This Sharks season is meeting a similar fate. Need a goal? One will come. Let in five goals? The Sharks will get six. Starting goalie out? The backup will come in and play better than the starter.

In the Capitals game, The Sharks were being outplayed in the first period but were still up 3-0. In this past weekend's Coyotes game, the Sharks were down 2-0 but came to back to win.

Then, there's been games like last week's matchup against Dallas. The team that knocked the Sharks out of the playoffs was no match for the Sharks, who won in a laugher.

They've even won in - gasp - the shootout, something that had caused problems in the past.

Even personnel moves are all working out. Nobody can argue with the choice of Todd McLellan as coach, first of all. And the acquisitions of defensemen Rob Blake and Dan Boyle have paid off big-time.

What still has me apprehensive, though, is this is all just the regular season and the regular season in the NHL, well, doesn't mean all that much. Except for the minority of teams that don't make the playoffs.

I fear the Sharks will get in the playoffs and lose early again while Anaheim, which already has hosted two Cup Finals, will win it all again. Not that the Sharks' recent failings in the post season entitles them to move into the late rounds this time around.

But there are too many new faces on the Sharks who were not around for the second-round exits so they shouldn't be tainted by any of it. This just might be the year the Sharks (and Sharks) fans celebrate at season's end.

It's only about 160 days or so till the playoffs begin. We might want to make sure we're all in town next June when the Cup Finals happen.

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