Update: Joe Pavelski is in, playing with Marleau and Malhotra to start the game.
So, I missed Thursday's Gameday against the Red Wings -- and the Sharks lose, the Ducks lose, and Patrick Marleau doesn't put up a point. Obviously, this BoC mojo thing has something going for it, though I'd tell Dan Boyle and Ryane Clowe that if they got in a shootout, it's probably best not to try the same moves they used in the shootout the previous night. Just a thought.
(On a good note, BoC mojo must be working for our dog because not only did her surgery go really smoothly, our vet said she's ahead of schedule for her recovery. Thanks for all your well wishes!)
That leads us to tonight's game against the Penguins -- a game that I was thinking of attending, but I sold my tickets just to play it safe with the pooch. Right now, all signs are pointing to a letdown tonight: first game back after a road trip, first game after ending a long winning streak, injuries on defense, a big home game against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The thing is, you could say the same thing about the Penguins: riddled with injuries, playing a "contender" team after losing to the upstart Kings, on a difficult West Coast swing for a team accustomed to northeast US travel. So mojo's going against both teams, and I guess we'll just have to see which one plays out tonight.
By the way, I hope this is more entertaining than last season's visit by the Pens. That was one of the worst games I saw all season.
One thing going against the Penguins is their surprisingly week special teams play. Well, I suppose not so surprising as of late due to the injuries to Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin, but still -- with Alex Goligoski's strong play on the blueline (13 points in 16 games, +14), it's kind of surprising to see the Penguins struggle with the man-advantage. Both the Sharks and the Penguins have power plays hovering around 83-84%, so it comes down to the Sharks having a more effective power play.
No news so far about any return of injured forwards, but I gotta think that we'll see Joe Pavelski sooner rather than later. Todd McLellan mentioned that Pavelski was the closest to returning, and when everything returns to normal, I'd prefer to keep Joe Thornton with Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe while Patrick Marleau plays with Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi. While Seto's a shooter like Heatley, I think he just works well with Marleau's pure speed. In the mantime, if Pavelski is a surprise addition against the Penguins, I think it makes sense to return Manny Malhotra down to the third line.
And just to bait for a topic down the road...I think it's easy to say that Marleau's been the most consistent Shark so far this season, and he was the team MVP last year. Considering the cap is currently projected to either stay the same or go up slightly...do you attempt to re-sign Marleau, and if so, how long do you do it (since the longer the term, the lower the cap hit)? You guys discuss and I'll chime in with my thoughts next week. I don't think it's any secret that I've been an advocate of Marleau's for a long, long time, but I'm torn on this one.
Prediction: Sharks 4, Penguins 2. Goals by Marleau (2), Boyle, and Nichol.