| It's Only December,
Conference and Division record is
12/13/09 - By Ken Smyth
just knew it was going to happen: the San Jose Sharks get a home game stolen
from them with a late goal and a shootout loss. Poetic justice maybe that it
was the battered St. Louis Blues that did the deed after the Sharks took an
undeserved win in St. Louis last month.
Then the Calgary Flames come
through, out-bang the Sharks and take a game that saw more pucks off goalposts
and crossbars than into the nets. Outside of both being losses and referee Dan
Marouelli's aggressive enforcement of the NHL's no-penalty-for-slashing-Joe
Thornton rule these two games shared a common element.
like playoff games. It makes sense, the Sharks played three past playoff series
against both Calgary and St. Louis; most notably losing to the Flames in the
2004 Conference Finals and defeating the 2000 Presidents Trophy winner Blues in
the opening round - yeah what goes/come around and all that. With both of them
losses they were also a reminder of the Sharks' start in recent playoff series.
Add in the shelling at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks the week
before and you get the feeling we'll be spending May the usual way; wondering
which promising players the Giants and A's will trade away for mediocre
veterans and a shot at a 77-85 season. Oh, and wondering just what happened to
Fact is, the Sharks need to play well against teams in their
division and the Western Conference. Period. They haven't done it. Period. They
need to start putting on the game face, intimidating the middle of the pack of
playoff teams the way the Red Wings and Avalanche teams of the late '90s used
So far they haven't. Against the Western Conference as a whole,
the Sharks are 11-6-7, which translates to 11-13 without the loser points. Not
horrible, but not exactly dominating. In the same category, Phoenix Coyotes are
a surprise, at 15-7-2 against the conference, up there with Chicago at 14-7-2.
If the only games that counted were ones against their
own division, the Sharks (3-2-4) would trailing the third place Dallas Stars
(4-3-3), who trail LA (9-1-1) and Phoenix (7-3-1). The Sharks play the Pacific
Division for the next seven games except for a couple "breathers" against
Chicago and Washington.
This is a good time to start showing that
playoff face. This will be a good stretch to evaluate the guys out there from
the Worcester shuttle wearing the offensive lineman numbers. Also, a good
stretch to work out the kinks in the power play and a bunch of other
aggravations made worse by three and four games a week with long travel.
Doug Wilson, Mike Ricci, and the rest of the brain trust sitting up
behind section 219 are paying attention. But, so is everyone else in the NHL. A
weak showing could mean it's still the same old Sharks, a pretty team that you
can ignore soon after the regular season ends.
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