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It's academic
If the Blackhawks or other teams have the Sharks' number, there will be no parade
11/19/13 - By Paul Krill -

The table was set for the Sharks on Sunday. While the team had another Saturday night with no game to play, the Blackhawks were getting pummeled in Nashville that evening, 7-2. The rested Sharks were set up to have an easy time with their tired, dreaded nemesis from the Windy City, right?

Well, not quite. Chicago came in and battered the Sharks, 5-1, finishing up the scoring with a penalty shot goal. Blackhawks Patrick Sharp, who scored that goal, seemingly knew a simple recipe to get the puck past Sharks goaltender (and former Blackhawk ) Antti Niemi: Just go high on him.

Sunday's loss was a big disappointment, since the Sharks had recently recovered from two weeks' worth of losses by beating Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton (although two of those games required overtime). OK, so maybe the Sharks were a bit road-weary, with this being the last game on a five-game road trip.

Now, they'll come home and face Tampa Bay minus its best player (injured Steven Stamkos), followed by the struggling New Jersey Devils (who also lost their best player, Ilya Kovalchuk, permanently) and then the Los Angeles Kings, who already have beaten the Sharks this year.

If teams such as the Blackhawks and Kings have the Sharks' number, so to speak, similar to how the Sharks' have had Vancouver's lately, then it is academic that the Sharks are not going to go far in this year's playoffs. The team cannot count on other teams to knock off the teams the Sharks have trouble beating; the Sharks are going to have to figure out a way to beat these teams themselves.

The upcoming five-game home stand gives the team a chance to pile up some points and hopefully re-establish the lead in the division - a lead lost to the Ducks recently. The Sharks have played 13 road games so far as opposed to just eight home games. It's a long season and there will be bumps along the way.

The Sharks, though, can't let teams be able to phone it against them if they wish to contend for a Stanley Cup. Somebody will have to come up with a game plan for these tough-to-beat teams.

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