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Game is On, Will the Sharks be
It's that time again
4/13/16 - By Ken Smyth -

Team Teal is back to the playoffs. Notice the exclamation point is missing. Maybe the Warriors have taken up all the oxygen around the bay, maybe it's the Sharks' losing record at home, but outside of we hopeless puckheads the excitement isn't happening. Even among fans there is a feeling of resignation.

That shouldn't be, this is the mid-term exam for whatever this team is building. Yes, the top-six forwards and top-four D are still mostly the gang that planted their flag and carved their name on Mt. Chokemore against the LA Kings in 2014. But the bottom of the lineup can actually move the puck out of their own end and pressure the opposition, something sorely lacking in 2014 and earlier. Martin Jones is a clear upgrade over Antii Niemi in the net.

Coach Peter DeBoer did a good job of melding the talent and doing things that Todd McLellan would have balked at, such as sticking Patrick Marleau down on the third line. This team cam match up with anybody, but are they ready to go out and take this series against the team that gave them that historic beat-down?

The Kings added Milan Lucic to be a a little meaner and Vinnie Lecavalier because he came cheap. Still they had to lose some of their back end players to stay within the salary cap. No tears in San Jose over Jarett Stoll, Mike Richards, and Justin Williams wearing new sweaters and we hope Marian Gaborik takes all summer to get his knee right. But these are the Kings with two rings. They will bring a swagger and two or three thousand fans to the Tank. The message is clearly Deal With It.

The Sharks were 3-1-1 against LA this season, it's clear they can match talent with them. The Sharks also proved they can win on the road almost anyplace. Were this a normal 1st round matchup between teams that finished 4 points apart, there would be am even split among hockey writers as to a favorite. This series is predicted as seven games by almost everyone with about two-thirds favoring the Kings.

Why be crazy enough to pick the Sharks until they actually show something in the playoffs. Fair enough, can't say I disagree with the logic. But now is the best time the Sharks will ever have to get the Kings out of their heads, and more importantly the fans' heads. No pressure, they expect you to fail, so just win. The Sharks can do this in seven games. Or go down in five and set the stage for the big clear out in 2016-17, possible including Doug Wilson. Game on. Go Sharks.

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