Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sharks Sweep Road Trip With Three Wins

The San Jose Sharks mounted a successful road campaign – their second in February – against three strong teams: the Detroit Red Wings (currently 2nd in the West), Pittsburgh Penguins (currently 4th in the East), and the Calgary Flames (currently 7th in the West), returning home with the momentum of a six game win streak. Next Tuesday, March 1st, the Sharks face the Colorado Avalanche at the Shark Tank.

Most impressive about the Sharks’ recent performance has been their overall patience and determination. Each of the three road games resulted in very close contests: the Sharks edged the Red Wings only by one goal at the end of regulation, the Sharks defeated the Penguins with only four seconds left in overtime, and the Sharks needed a shootout win to best the Flames.

Earlier in the season, fans grew accustomed to seeing the Sharks explode in the beginning and opening their lead, before allowing opposing teams to stage their comeback late in the third period. Now, fans have a team to be proud of supporting. The Sharks have since overcome deficits and maintained leads acquired early on. Fans are now witness to the regular season dominating team they've been used to watching.

In addition to the Sharks’ improved efficacy in their team play, the newcomers have all proven to be effective to the lineup as well. Forwards Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood, in addition to defenseman Ian White, have all significantly contributed to the Sharks’ recent hot streak.

The Sharks have also seen their veteran talent, with the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley, become more productive. Thornton’s second star honors for his performance in Calgary, despite not registering a point, came from his high work ethic: setting up his teammates, maintaining great puck control, and capable back-checking. Had several of his set up teammates been able to score, Thornton would have managed a few pretty assists for the highlight reel.

To briefly recap the Sharks’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames, Dan Boyle was out for the first time all season, Logan Couture increased his already-impressive points streak with the assist on the first goal, and Devin Setoguchi scored yet again. Ryane Clowe also did not fail to disappoint, not only scoring the game tying goal late in the third, but burying the only goal in the shootout, beating Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, to seal the Sharks’ victory. (This, of course, during a night when Kiprusoff clearly dominated the net, earning himself a well-deserved first star honors.)

As long as the Sharks maintain their visible patience and determination, Sharks fans should be treated to an exciting March home game stretch to watch their team win more games at the Shark Tank.

Based on the recent trades, acquisitions, and line configurations, there is no doubt the San Jose Sharks are taking their past post-season woes seriously.

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