I’ll make this quick since the game is a couple hours away and I have a feeling the Sharks will see that this game is decided early on. Lately is seems like every team the Panthers play has a streak going, and today is no different as the Sharks will be looking for their fourth win in a row. San Jose sits at the top of the Western Conference with 95 points, two points ahead of my beloved Blackhawks.
The Sharks are coming off an 8-5 victory over Nashville where they had to turn on the afterburners in the final period after trailing 4-2, scoring six goals. They were outshot 34-11 in the first two periods and coach Todd McClellan was not happy with the game even though San Jose won. He was disappointed in their play in the first two periods, but thankful they came back in the third. However this is not the way you play when you’re intentions are a long playoff run as San Jose is not planning on another first round exit.
Patrick Marleau leads in goals with 40, and Joe Thornton leads in assists with 62 and points with 79. Their first line which includes Ottawa Senator defector Dany Heatley have combined for 93 goals among them! They are indeed a dangerous group. Add to that goaltender Evgeny Nabokov who has 37 wins and is 10-3-1 in his last 11 games.
The Panthers on the other hand are falling further behind the playoff race and a loss today could end their faint playoff hopes. Losing, rather after being shutout against Colorado, which at times looked like the Panthers had outplayed the young and skilled Avalanche, Florida hopes to start another winning streak today after failing to win their fourth in a row.
Rusty Olesz, no points in 16 consecutive games, Radek Dvorak no points in 8 straight and Little Stevie, no points in three. Save for Tomas Vokoun, there’s not much going here in this one, as the Sharks are bigger, faster, more skilled and are probably a little pissed off about their game against Nashville.
Jeff Taffe has been called up for insurance in the event that Little Stevie can’t go today as he is having trouble with a hangnail sore foot.
I think I’ll be watching this with one eye closed!
Thanks for reading.