1/5/08 SHARKS 3, columbus 2
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, we can discuss this game thing, which, if you can't tell from above, went quite well actually.
Patrick Rissmiller, goal scorer. Twice over, even. Rissmiller tipped a Matt Carle point shot early in the 2nd, and buried a Joe Pavelski pass past Columbus goalie Fredrik Norrena, who replaced starter Pascal Leclaire at the start of the 3rd. Steve Bernier added a highlight reel half-spinorama late in the 2nd. Evgeni "I have no more nicknames for the ridiculousness of his situation"
Nabokov was present in the San Jose nets, making start #41 (in 41 Sharks games this year), and stopping 21 shots in his league leading 23rd victory this year.
Rissmiller was a big story, Nabokov was a big story, but by far, the biggest story was what was addressed at the top of this post. THE SHARKS WON A HOME GAME, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Sure, you could say "but Jess, they beat the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, that's not a feat." True, the Jackets aren't world beaters yet, but they aren't crap anymore either. Columbus sits at 44 points, which has them pegged in at 10th in a very tight Western Conference race.
You may also say, "but Jess, the Jackets are now 0-12-1 at 525 W. Santa Clara". Yes, also true. But, to that I say "SHUT UP, PARTY POOPER". The Blue Jackets did win the first matchup between the teams this year albeit in Columbus, and with now 18 points earned out of a possible 40 at home, I'm very happy to take every single point that the Sharks are willing and able to earn.
At the halfway point, the San Jose Sharks are doing well while sucking at the same time. They're on fire away when they're away from home, but getting burned constantly when they aren't. They have people stepping up, but Jonathan Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau, and even recently, Joe Thornton aren't among them. They went from a strong rotating goaltender system to having a starting goalie and a rumor for a backup netminder.
In short, the Sharks are a conundrum right now. The NHL in the salary cap era is just as advertised thusfar, a league that is seeing strong parity. As of games through Sunday January 6th, 2008, 28 of 30 teams (14 in each conference) seem to still have a strong shot at, the very least, playing for a shot at the post-season come March and early April (sorry to Kings and Lightning fans, if you make it, email me and I'll send you a cookie).
I bring up the issue of parity, because it seems to be what is clouding an unbiased judgement of the Sharks by their fans. As we speak, the Sharks have the third most points in the league (52) behind Ottawa (58) and Detroit (67), and yet, the majority of Teal fans will tell you they are, for the most part, disappointed with how the season has gone thusfar. The team is incredible on the road, owning the best road record in the league, while they are incredibly bad at home, owning the worst home record. The PP is crap, sitting at 23rd in the league, while the PK is supreme, ranked 2nd in the league. The offense isn't producing much, but the defense is making sure others don't produce against them. All in all, something is happening. Whether it's good or bad, it's all up to interpretation. The real measure will be that silvery thingie. If the Boys in Teal are drinking from it come June, it was a good year. If not, then bust out that drawing board again as it'll be a long summer.
The Sharks get a few days off before they try to clear the cloudy picture, but when they do, they'll welcome the Vancouver Canucks to the Tank (7:30). The Canucks are always dangerous, especially with their rock in the form of Roberto Luongo. Luongo, probably in line to win the Vezina (was runner up to Martin Brodeur last summer). Vancouver is in a tight race in the Northwest, and shouldn't be an easy matchup, however, the Sharks have dominated the season series, taking all three games played thusfar (3-1 and 4-2 in Vancouver on 10/5 and 10/15 respectively, and 5-2 in San Jose on 12/13). Whatever should happen on Thursday, I won't be happy unless they win. And the Sharks won't like me, tucked away in the far corner of the Tank away from most people, when I'm angry.
GO SHARKS (DO IT AGAIN, DO IT AGAIN)
So nice, I added it twice.