Does anyone remember when/why this happened? It was part of the Valentine's Day game montage and you could see an United Center banner in the background, but there was no other explanation. Randy just looks so pleased the whole time. :P
Oy, all our remaining games are against the division except for the one against the Wild. Good times (not really). (OMG the playoffs are coming up so soon! *hops*)
I hereby award Torrey Mitchell the Marc-Edouard Vlasic Award for being the rookie who unexpectedly made the team out of training camp and essentially played perfectly the entire season.
Sharks brimming with confidence
March 15, 2008
SAN JOSE -- Head coach Ron Wilson can pinpoint the moment when the San Jose Sharks went from underachievers to the hottest team in the NHL.
It came on Feb. 21 when a turnover led to a Philadelphia Flyers goal with just six seconds left in the second period. That tied the game 1-1 and the Sharks went to their dressing room facing a potential six-game losing skid.
"That was a combustion point for our team," Wilson said yesterday. "Are we going to lose again because of a poor decision? Are we going to let that drag us down? Or, are we going to finally step up and get the job done? We bounced right back and won the game 3-1 in convincing fashion."
From there "our confidence just kind of exploded."
That victory was followed by nine more heading into last night's home game against the St. Louis Blues. The 10-game streak is the longest in the NHL this season and the longest in the Sharks' 17-year history.
San Jose has made up 11 points and is now battling Dallas and Anaheim for the Pacific Division lead. The Sharks have also reaffirmed their standing as a Western Conference giant, a club that is deep, talented, physical, fast and capable of winning playing all sorts of different styles.
Before that, the Sharks were toiling around the postseason cut-off line. They were routinely getting beat at home, including a 0-6 combined record against the Stars and Ducks, and star forwards Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo were in the doldrums.
"We were probably grading a C average," general manager Doug Wilson said. "In this league, especially out West, that's not good enough."
In normal circumstances, the Sharks' streak would be even more remarkable for its road-warrior nature. As of yesterday, San Jose had spent 21 of the past 26 nights on the road and won eight of its 10 games away from the HP Pavilion.
But San Jose is not a normal team in that regard. The Sharks are 25-8-3 on the road - better than every NHL team, other than Detroit - and just 16-13-5 in its own arena.
The reasons for the streak, which began before the NHL trade deadline, are easy to identify. For starters, there was the deadline addition of defenceman Brian Campbell, but the improved play of Marleau and Cheechoo also deserves credit.
Campbell, who was acquired for young power forward Steve Bernier and a first-round draft pick, added the minutes-eating defenceman the team needed, but also provided the team with a different dimension: the ability to skate with the puck and move it quickly up to the forwards. Campbell was part of a 10-game winning streak with the Buffalo Sabres to begin the 2006-07 season, but said this surge is better-constructed.
"The problem with that [Sabres'] streak was we were down two goals at least three times and we would score our way out of it," he said. "This streak has been done the way you have to do it in the playoffs: winning the one-goal games and holding leads."
The resurgence of Marleau, a notorious slow starter who was bothered by trade rumours, and Cheechoo, who took a while to recover from double-hernia surgery last summer, also helped ignite the streak.
Cheechoo has six goals and nine points in the past 10 games. Marleau has four goals, seven points, and is more comfortable playing wing on a line with Joe Pavelski and Devon Setoguchi because he has fewer defensive responsibilities.
"Getting through the trade deadline, I think, has lifted a burden [off Marleau]. He'd probably say 'no' but statistically, it seems to point to that," Ron Wilson said. "I've been saying it all year: once Patty and Cheech return and play near where they are capable playing, we'll be a much better team."
Kudos to Doug Wilson for adding Brian Campbell and bringing to the team something that's been missing ever since I started watching the Sharks--a redhead!
*Where junior college in Singapore is equivalent to 11th and 12th grade. Or possibly also the first year of college, given how many credits I got for my A Levels. *chortles*
[Edit: *cries* Petr was named second star of the week!!!
Sykora recorded six points (three goals, three assists) in two games, including the game-winning goal in each contest, as the Penguins (41-24-7, 89 points) finished the week one point behind the New Jersey Devils for first place in the tight Atlantic Division race. He notched the game-winner and added one assist in a 7-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Mar. 12 and posted a season-high four points (two goals, two assists) in 7-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Mar. 16, reaching the 25-goal mark for the ninth consecutive season. Sykora is fourth on the Penguins in scoring with 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) in 72 games.]