As we entered into today’s action, 2 points separate 2nd place through 9th place in the Western Conference standings. The San Jose Sharks are tied, in points, with teams in 6th through 9th after their 2-1 OT win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
The situation could have been a lot first for this Sharks team that went 3-2-0 on their most recent road-trip that saw wins against the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, and Philadelphia Flyers. In their convincing 4-0 win over Ottawa, their play was indicative of the score, but it was the wins over the Wings and Flyers that their record on the road trip could have been 1-4-0. I was impressed by the resiliency displayed by the Sharks being down in tough arenas against two of the top teams in the NHL to come back in each game to earn victories These victories can go a long way for a team that has been struggling to find consistency, especially when playing .500 hockey on the road all season.
The loss in Buffalo could be explained as a team at the end of their tough road swing and playing on back-to-back nights after going to a shootout the night before. Though a comeback attempt was mounted, the Sharks made some mistakes that would cost them on the scoreboard and would put the game out of reach.
Here are some things to take away from their play as of late:
The FCC line. Ben Ferierro, Logan Couture, and Ryan Clowe have been tremendous in 5 on 5 play and when seeing time on the powerplay. They were instrumental in the Sharks’ recent victories and Ferierro has probably earned a spot on the roster once Setoguchi returns from injury.
Antti Niemi. The much improved play of the reigning Cup-winning goalie has given the team more confidence and makes the Sharks more of a threat with their current 1a and 1b goaltending tandem.
Offensive Contributions from the Defense. Prior to the road trip, Dan Boyle seemed to be the only Sharks blueliner that had been finding the scoresheet but the rest of the D-men have decided to help with the heavy lifting. Rookie call-up Justin Braun has 7 points in his first 9 NHL-games and Marc-Eduoard Vlasic picked up his first goal – and point – of the season and assisted on both goals in their win against Chicago. Also, Jason Demers has 3 points in his last three games.
San Jose faces off tonight against the Dallas Stars in a very important divisional match-up.
NOTE: Former San Jose Shark goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and his KHL team have reportedly come to a mutual decision to terminate the contract in place. The two parties are citing “family reasons” for the split and that Nabokov is to return to North America. According to Nabokov’s agent (the story is in Russian), he has no plans to retire so a return to the NHL is imminent. Nabby will have to clear through waivers upon his return. For more information on where I think he’ll play, check out my personal blog.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).