[SBNation Sharks Blog - Fear the Fin]
[SBN Cali blog - Battle of California]
I'll admit - I was prepared to concede at least one game on this west coast road trip. Prior to playing the Kings, I was ready to make it this one against the Sharks. Now? Not so much.
I wouldn't necessarily call that outlook pessimistic either. The Kings and Sharks are good, much like Pittsburgh, but are currently not affected by injuries to the same degree in which the Penguins are. That easily gives each team a one up over the Pens, so really coming out of this west coast trip 2-1 is, as far as I'm concerned, a success.
3-1 after the trip to Boston on Tuesday would be even better, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
On Thursday night the Sharks watched their six-game win streak come to an end in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings. However, they still haven't lost a game in regulation since the Lightning smacked them around 5-2 back on October 22, so San Jose's point streak is still alive and well. It's no surprise then that San Jose sits atop the Pacific with 24 pts (11-4-2) and are serious contenders with Colorado for the #1 spot in the West.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh this isn't the first round of the playoffs. In other words, San Jose is still a viable threat. Look no further than the top three for San Jose: Patrick Marleau (11g, 11a), Joe Thornton (4g, 17a) and offseason drama queen Dany Heatley (10g, 8a). And just for the record, Devon Setoguchi and his seven goals should not be taken lightly either. Evgeni Nabokov is once again a force between the pipes, holding down a 10-3-2 record that ties him with Marc-Andre Fleury and LA's Jonathan Quick for second most wins by a goaltender (Colorado's Craig Anderson is first with 11).
Again, this game does not end the road trip, although it will send the Pens back east to wrap up the fourth of four on the road against the Bruins Tuesday night. I'd imagine a stopover in Pittsburgh is on the agenda, but I'm no team secretary so I can hardly confirm that.
Puck and thread drop at 10:35. Come by and hang out for the night.