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Odds and ends
Trade or not, on the road and goaltending bumps
2/7/11 - By Mike Lee

Just spewing on whatever comes to mind this week. The trade deadline is a mere three weeks away. So there's plenty to ponder there. Well, except for the fact that the Sharks are unlikely to do much. The fact is, Doug Wilson thinks he has the roster that can win a Cup. Has their recent 7-0-1 run validated Wilson's thinking? If it hasn't, Wilson would be best served to say that he's standing pat.

Why announce to opposing general managers that he's desperate to fill a need. Hasn't he played that card already? If he is going to deal, Wilson needs to hold those cards close.

The reality is, the cap space situation doesn't provide a lot of room to maneuver, so don't expect someone like Jerome Iginla to wearing teal this spring. The fact that Calgary is starting to pick up the pace will rule that out anyway, buy you get the point.

I read somewhere last week that Dustin Byfuglien is the piece that's missing. Hate to break it to you, but Byfuglien also won't be donning a Shark on his sweater this spring either. His salary won't allow it, and Atlanta has a marketing center piece in the burly defenseman.

His scoring this season also makes him immovable for a team that can't get it forwards to score, much less the blueliners. Wilson should have pushed to make that deal happen last summer when Chicago had their backs against the wall.

Considering the first three months of the season, it's hard to believe that the roster is championship caliber. Additions like Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood don't exactly sound like those pieces that are going to get you over the hump, but guys like that can turn out to be exactly that.

Eager isn't an offensive juggernaut, but he is that chuck of grit that San Jose seems to lack every season. He didn't score a single point against the Sharks in the Conference Finals last season, but he was that in-your-face guy that was there to disrupt the Sharks top line guys.

If he's disrupting Vancouver, Detroit or Dallas' scoring in the playoffs, the Sharks have something that's really been absent since guys like Mike Ricci played for San Jose.

Wellwood is still an unknown in terms of the role he'll fill. So far, he's been matched up with Eager, which is a strange combination, given the role he played for Vancouver. Will he expected to pick up the scoring slack or serve as a checking line guy?

His goal against Ilya Bryzgalov in Phoenix last week showed off his hands. Wellwood deflected a puck out of the air into Bryzgalov's glove, and when the Phoenix netminder juggled it back into air, Wellwood swatted the floater into the Coyotes net.

Roadie Continues

San Jose will square off with the Washington Capitals twice in the next nine days. San Jose plays the Capitals in D.C. on Tuesday, then face off against the Eastern Conference's 5th seeded team at HP Pavilion on February 17th. Washington will be without high scoring defenseman Mike Green, who is out after suffering a concussion. Alexander Semin is also on the shelf, but Washington is coming off a big win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

San Jose has handled Washington pretty handily the last few years, primarily because they could always roll multiple lines at the Caps. With Green and Semin out, that becomes a bit easier for San Jose.

With Green out, former Sharks Scott Hannan has been forced to pick up the load, along with fellow blueliner John Carlson. Hannan and Carlson combined for almost 53 minutes of ice time in Washington's 3-0 win over the Penguins.

Goaltending Injury Report

Alex Stalock's injury last week was an unfortunate setback for the Sharks prospect, but it was unlikely that the goaltender was going to see much time with the big club anyway, With Antero Niittymaki's hamstring improving, Stalock was destined for Worcester.

Niittymaki's injury was actually one of those deals that may turn out to be a vital part of longer term success for the Sharks. The platoon isn't something you want to head into a playoff run with. Playing regularly allows Antti Niemi to get into a groove.

It also allows him to think less about having to beat out Niittymaki, and more about stopping opposing forwards. With Niittymaki out, there is no question who is going to get the majority of time between the pipes.

Getting more pucks on Niemi is a good thing between now and April.



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