While Sleek is calling for positivity from the Ducks side (for you fellow indie music geeks out there, "Positivity" is probably the worst song ever recorded by Suede), things are moving a little smoother here in the Bay Area. In terms of lineup changes, it sounds like Douglas Murray is out with the mysterious "upper body injury" while Tomas Plihal is still out. Which, if the Sharks had made the fan-pleasing move of giving Jeff Friesen a minimal contract (say, a weekly pizza and some old Friesen merchandise), would have been the perfect time to debut that new #13 Friesen jersey. Easy money for the Sharks, a team that's had a habit of money-grubbing from fans.
As for the rest of the team? I can spout off about what I like (shots from Rob Blake, speed through the neutral zone, Devin Setoguchi driving the net, Jonathan Cheechoo one-timers) or what I don't like (Joe Thornton looking a tad bit lost away from his usual half-board position, Marc-Edouard Vlasic trying to shoot on the power play, effective puck clearing during the penalty kill) but it's all kind of moot right now. Right now, the pluses far outweigh the minuses, and the minuses are all nitpicky things that you figure a team will work out over the coming weeks.
This team will hit a slump eventually; all teams do, and it's how the react that makes a difference. For tonight, though, I think they have to be wary of a pissed-off, frustrated, and desperate Ducks team. This could be either good or bad for the Sharks depending on A) whether Anaheim figured out that taking penalties is generally not a good path to victory and B) whether Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf wake up. My personal theory is that Getzlaf is off looking for that patch of hair that used to be on his head, but that's just speculation.
This is uncharted waters (heh) for the Sharks, who are traditionally an awful-to-mediocre October team. What any team in this situation wants to do is avoid being the 2007-08 Ottawa Senators or the 1998-99 Phoenix Coyotes. So boys, make sure that the wins are coming because everyone is working together, not because everyone is overachieving and waiting for the bottom to fall out of it.
And as for Todd McLellan, I bet he loves it when a plan comes together. (That one's for you, Sleek. Positivity!)
Prediction: Sharks 4, Ducks 2. Goals by Cheechoo (2), Blake, and Thornton.
P.S. Ever wondered how I'd stand up in a Star Wars trivia contest on a hockey radio show? Now you can find out by checking out my appearence on LCS Hockey. Since Sleek was on it last week, this leads to the ultimate Star Wars-A Team mashup joint appearence sometime in the future. The world will never be the same.
P.P.S. Ever wondered how I'd sound on local Bay Area radio? Now you can find out by checking out this week's ChompTalk on 1220 AM Sunday night at 9 PM (or you can listen online). You might recognize one of the hosts.