San Jose Sharks
@ Chicago Blackhawks
Monday, Mar 14, 2011, 5:00 PM PDT
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On March 14th 1794, Eli Whitney was granted the patent for the cotton gin. This invention revolutionized the cotton industry in the American south and led to a massive increase in the number of slaves. Consequently the economy of the American South became much more dependent on the cotton industry, which was part of the reason the southern states were willing to fight the Civil War over the issue of slavery.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that Eli Whitney is directly responsible for millions of ruined lives through slavery and the Civil War, and I hope he's rotting in Hell.
Unlike Eli Whitney, the Sharks are awesome. They've lost their last two games but have managed to get a point in each. They got Dan Boyle back in the lineup and he had an immediate impact, contributing two assists and scoring in the shootout.
After struggling earlier in the season both the Sharks and the Blackhawks have been hitting their stride recently. Both are 7-1-2 in their last ten, and this similarity is only one of many for these two teams. The two teams are very close, stat-wise, nearly equal in powerplay and penalty killing percentage, shots per game, and shots against per game.
Where the two teams differ most is in goals for and against. The Blackhawks are third in the league in goals scored, with 3.20 per game, while the Sharks sit stubbornly in 15th in that category with 2.74. The Sharks have an average goals against of 2.51, while Chicago's is 2.72. Do the Blackhawks miss Antti Niemi yet?
A cool stat from NHL.com's preview of tonight's game:
Stat Pack: With 110 points and 215 penalty minutes, Sharks winger Ryane Clowe is one of just two players in the League with at least 100 points and 200 penalty minutes since the beginning of last season. Anaheim's Corey Perry is the other.
It's funny how different Clowe and Perry seem, given this similarity in their stats. I'm too lazy to do the work to figure it out, but it's almost certain that a much higher percentage of Clowe's PIMs come from fights than Perry's, but regardless of how they got the penalties it's pretty impressive for both players.
Prediction: Sharks win 4-2, with goals from Thornton, Clowe, Heatley, and Boyle.