Game Time: 9:30 Central
Aboard The Orca: Fear The Fin, Battle Of California
Both of these teams can beat the snot out of the Ducks. We’ve now proven that. What can they do against each other? Well in the last meeting the Hawks scored 3 goals in just under 3 minutes in the first. It wasn’t a complete dominance though – the Sharks were able to make things interesting and the third period had its moments before Bickell put the game away three quarters of the way through the period.
In their last 10, the Sharks are 6-3-1 and they’ve won their last two match ups. They’re not really challenging Anaheim for the top spot in the Pacific since the Ducks have already built themselves quite a little lead out there. San Jose is firmly in the playoff race as usual though, even if no one really expects them to do much when they get there (except for maybe flame out in some horribly embarrassing fashion again). It’s no surprise that a line with Pavelski and Thornton has been producing. The two have been trouble for a while and Pavelski has goals in the last three games. He’s been pretty much a point per game player when taking on Chicago so he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. On the second line, Couture is actually tied with Pavelski in points but trails far behind him goals, 18 to Pavelski’s 25. Past the two top lines and those threats though, there isn’t much that’s scary in San Jose’s bottom 6, especially since that fourth line still is dragged down by our old friend John Scott. Hertl is still fun to watch but hasn’t quite found his form that he had at the start of his rookie year before he was taken down with a knee injury.
On the blue line though it’s a bit of a different story. Brent Burns continues to thrive as a defenseman when going forward. His 36 points put him in the top 5 in scoring for d-men but he’s in a rough spot lately with only 1 point in the last five games. Getting him going the other way can work to your advantage though. San Jose finally wised up a bit and paired him with Vlasic over Meuller. Giving Burns a bit of a safety net when performing his high wire acts. Beyond Vlasic however, the Sharks are a bit of a mess. If guys like Matt Irwin scare you, it’s probably only because you’d imagine he’d be really awful to deal with at party’s. He’s got a face that just looks like he’d talk your ear off for hours about playing Call of Duty while you desperately try to think of a reason to excuse yourself.
In the crease, we’ve got an Antti-0ff! Q opted to go with Crow last night against the league leading Ducks, so we’re going to see Raanta in his first start since the All-Star break. Niemi hasn’t ever been too stellar against the Hawks since his trade but he’s still a goalie that can steal the occasional game.
The Sharks remain a team that will be very good most nights and can look as dangerous as anyone in the league but still remain a team with some major holes. They’ll certainly make the playoffs. They might even win the first round. But I don’t think anyone looks at them as serious contenders for the cup. You’d have thought Doug Wilson was looking to just sabotage the team this year based on his summer but it looks like he even screwed that up. The Sharks are likely at a point where they need to blow the whole thing up and start over but keep holding on to hope.
For the Hawks, well.. just more of last night, right?
Lets Go Hawks