@ San Jose Sharks
Saturday, Apr 9, 2011, 7:30 PM PDT
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Amazing season, Sharks. Well, amazing second half, anyway.
Lots of people were doubting this team earlier in the season. I was definitely one of them. On January 11th, 2011, I wrote this:
2011 so far has been a disaster. The Sharks have fallen to last in the competitive Pacific division and their scoring touch has completely vanished.
Things sure have changed, huh? What an incredible turnaround for this team. The rest of the Pacific division (except for Dallas, hahaha) continued to play very well all season long, but the Sharks went on such a run that they managed to climb to the top of the toughest group of teams around.
The second half of the season has seen a bunch of great performances for the Sharks. Here, in my opinion, are San Jose's three MVPs this regular season:
3. Ryane Clowe - Clowe set a new personal high for goals and points this year, as well as contributing on the physical side of things with 100 penalty minutes (and with 12 fights this year most of those are "good" penalty minutes) He's spent much of the year on a line with Logan Couture, and hasn't hesitated to jump to the defense of the Sharks' rookie of the year candidate.
2. Antti Niemi - Which came first - better play from the Sharks' skaters or Antti Niemi? It's a chicken and the egg situation. Regardless of how it started, we all know what happened next: Antti Niemi started a million straight games down the stretch and the Sharks charged up the standings. Niemi has been rock solid since the new year began, and has provided stability and confidence in net.
1. Patrick Marleau - Patrick Marleau is a really swell guy. He's the team's leading scorer this year and has been Mr. Clutch for the past couple of months, making a habit of contributing goals exactly when they are needed. In addition his defensive play has COMPLETELY turned around since his struggles earlier this year. For much of the first half of the season Marleau was near the bottom in +/- for the entire league. Since the start of February he's a +15.
Honorable mentions: Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Douglas Murray.
Prediction: Sharks are awesome. They win 5-1.