Thursday, March 24, 2011

San Jose Sharks: The Last Eight Games

The San Jose Sharks are in a great position right now: first place in the Pacific Division, third place in the Western Conference (only one point behind the Detroit Red Wings), and currently riding the momentum of a four game win streak. Additionally, today's main roster is full of healthy players (with the exception of Scott Nichol, currently on injured reserve) ready to take on the post-season. All-star defenseman Dan Boyle recently made a return after missing several games due to an upper-body injury, and talented rookie Logan Couture had been able to play the very next game after suffering an ugly spill into the boards during the Sharks’ game versus the St. Louis Blues.

Many feared Couture would be out indefinitely due to his difficulty leaving the ice, although reports confirmed, in addition to Couture himself confirming on his Twitter account, that his injury was not as bad as expected and he would return for the very next game. Not only did Couture return, but he did so with flair, scoring another goal to contribute to the Sharks’ 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames last night.

For the rest of the season, the Sharks will be pitted against their tough Pacific Division rivals: two games against the Los Angeles Kings, three games against the Phoenix Coyotes, one game against the Dallas Stars, and two games against the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks by no means have their first place position in the Pacific Division clinched, especially since their Division is, by far, the strongest performing in the Western Conference, with four out of the five Pacific teams currently in the top eight.

Fortunately for the Sharks, their current year acquisitions have all been big winners, each performing well: Ian White stepping up as a tough offensive defenseman, Kyle Wellwood as another Scott Nichol-type hard working player, and Ben Eager as a solid checking line player not afraid to use his size to his advantage (as many of us remember from last year’s playoffs when he was playing on the Chicago Blackhawks).

The Sharks’ scorers have also been performing.
- Patrick Marleau, after not scoring for much of the season, has had a recent point-scoring burst, hitting the 30-goal mark for the season during the game against the Flames last night.
- Joe Pavelski has displayed his masterful ability to set up plays, similar to teammate Joe Thornton.
-Fan favorite Ryane Clowe, the gritty corner master and enforcer, is very close to hitting sixty points already for the season (as is Dany Heatley).
- Veteran defensemen Douglas Murray, Marc Edouard Vlasic, and Jason Demers have been handling the blue line well, keeping standout netminder Antti Niemi well protected from wayward pucks.

Niemi has also been doing well in his own right, now being particularly famous in San Jose for his ability to see through screens to make amazing saves.

To give a proper “shout out” when it is due, based on last night’s game, I would like to congratulate on Torrey Mitchell’s two-goal game and to Mr. Number 69 Andrew Desjardins for his first NHL goal.

The Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings TONIGHT at the Staples Center, the start of the Sharks’ eight game campaign against familiar Division rivals. Let us hope the rest of the season goes well for the Sharks so a favorable playoff spot can be clinched!

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