After beaching themselves in a 6-3 shellacking at the hands of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center Tuesday night, the Sharks reversed the score the following night against the suddenly-struggling Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, winning 6-3. Joe Thornton potted two goals, including this beauty of a tip-in to put the Sharks on the board (scroll to about the 1:50 mark):
As has been discussed ad nauseam over the last six weeks, the Western conference has become an insane jumble of playoff-worthy teams jostling for positional supremacy. Well-accustomed to regular season success, San Jose is in a dogfight this year, seeing their divisional lead narrow to a mere three points against the upstart Los Angeles Kings, who also have a game in hand. The Sharks are going to need Calder candidate Logan Coture to break out of his seventeen game goal scoring slump (two markers), continued strong play by Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Ryan Clowe and the recently-suspended Dany Heatley (two games for elbowing Steve Ott in the head), and able net minding by Antti Niemi in order to capture the crown for the third year in a row.
Possibly riding to the Sharks’ rescue is Mr. Schedule Maker, who (rumor has it) is a Frankenstein’s monster combination of a horned-rim glasses-wearing actuary and Nostradamus’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson. Not only does the schedule have San Jose at home for seven of their final eleven games, but ten are against potential playoff teams – including two against Los Angeles. If any team in the West has an opportunity to write their own ticket, it’s the Sharks. And if that means taking a big bite out of the young pups 305 miles to the south, so much the better.
No matter how things shake out, it’s going to be one heck of a ride to the finish line.