On Thursday January 15th. The Sharks will play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs and your pal Ian is going to Break It Down!!! This is your semi-regular officially unofficial game preview post that gives you some numbers that you can get on 100 different websites and my hot air opinions on things.
Know Your Team: The Sharks (23-16-5, 51 points and 2nd in the Pacific Division as of this writing) just snapped a 2 game losing streak with a win in Arizona on Tuesday and are looking to take advantage of an Eastern Conference team playing the 2nd night of back to backs. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. The sharks are currently alone in 2nd place in the division with the Kings (50 points) and Canucks (49 points) in hot pursuit. The flames (47 points) have lost a little ground but are far from out of the picture. All 3 teams have games in hand on the Sharks with the Kings and Flames having 1 game and the Canucks having 3. The Sharks Power Play is ranked 8th in the league at 21.1% while the Penalty Kill is ranked 15th. in the league at 81.2%.
Know Your Enemy: The Toronto Maple Leafs (22-18-3, 47 points and 6th. in the Atlantic Division) are on a one game losing streak and are set to play the Ducks later tonight. (as of this writing.) The leafs are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and are currently 5 points out of the last wild card spot in the eastern conference. Their power play is ranked 10th in the league at 20.3 % and their penalty kill is ranked 12th. at 82.3%. They are led in scoring by the much maligned Phil Kessel who has 19G, 24A and is a -8. Kessel's line is generally centred by Tyler Bozak 14 G, 18 A, and -5 and James VanRiemsdyk 19 G, 21 A and -5. Their leafs feature Jonathan Bernier (16-11-3, 2.67 GAA .917 SV%) who I expect to start against the Ducks meaning the Sharks may very well face James Reimer (6-7-0, 3.51 GAA and .902 SV%) if the leafs want Bernier fresh for the Kings.
Thoughts And Stuff:
For Sharks fans that think this season has been hell for us, I give you the Toronto Maple Leafs a fan base that has seen a coaching change and been driven to becoming bi-polar by the sheer amount of over analysis that this team subjected too. One week they are in a playoff spot and all is well and the next the sweaters are hitting the ice like its a pre-chrismas teddy bear toss in the minor leagues. What I wonder is if the leafs were in long island or buffalo how bad would we think they really are? Don't get me wrong they are not good but with how this team is talked about sometimes you would think they are scrapping the bottom of the league fighting with Edmonton for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. While the playoffs may look bleak now in a soft eastern conference a couple of wins and they are right back in contention. Sure I don't think they are anywhere near a cup winning team they have some young pieces that should end up ok with some patience... patience who am I kidding this is Toronto.
One last thing on the leafs, as much as I actually like Bozak could you imagine that line with a true number 1 centre?
I see no reason why Niemi is not going to start this game from what I understand he was decent against the coyotes and its not a back to back for the Sharks. I would however like to see Stalock get a few more starts in before the playoffs start It's crazy to me that he's only played 10 games this year even considering the time out for injury. **SPECULATION BASED ON NOTHING ALERT** it makes me wonder if this is just a coach going with his veteran or if we are going to hear about additional time under the knife for Stalock when the season is up. **END SPECULATION**
A lot of people talk about the idea of moving Pavelski back to 3rd. line and I jump on this bandwagon often enough but what about Patrick Marleau? To be fair this is something that has been kicked around by other people and usually I shrug it off as a bad idea but lets go down this road a little bit. I know its been a while since Marleau has played centre but he still has decent faceoff stats and should be able to eat what ever opponent that the 3rd line draws. Give him some wingers with speed and this could be an actual threat. The problem is that our top 6 in under-preforming with a couple of players dealing with the dreaded sophomore slump. While deep down I may not be a huge fan of the idea it's at least something that TMac should think about.
My Prediction: Sharks win in regulation. This is a team that is in turmoil on the second night of a back to back, the Sharks need these 2 points, with a schedule upcoming losing this game would be a massively missed opportunity.
House Keeping: Sadly I am doubtful for a Good, Bad and Ugly after this one so the floor is open if someone wants it bad enough. I'll confirm in the GDT closer to game time.
Also if you have any questions you would like to ask me to answer in a BID please e-mail them too firstname.lastname@example.org, try not to ask anything time sensitive as I post these guys as I have time and I'd hate to answer your question a day late. You can also read previous blogs by going to http://ianblogssharks.blogspot.ca
I hope you enjoyed this post and I can't express enough how greatful I am for those who take the time to read it. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to improve it please post them below.
What are your thoughts going into tomorrows game?