November 8th, 2009, 1:39 pm
W-O-W. That’s how Jamie Baker described the keep-in Dan Boyle performed at the blueline before he passed to Thornton, who then dumped it into the slot for Pavelski, and Heatley cleaned up the garbage for the Sharks’ fourth goal. This is after Dan Boyle made Ruslan Fedotenko and Martin Skoula look like a couple of beer leaguers, faking and deking right and left before burying a low wrist shot far side that chased Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh net. Second in the league in points by a defenseman, Boyle has played the first month of the season with a broken thumb, and we witnessed last night what can happen when Danny is 100%. Holy crap. Is this guy fun to watch or what?
But Jamie’s exclamation about the clinic Boyle put on really applies to the whole 5-0 Sharks trouncing of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Actually, it wasn’t completely unlike the win the Sharks handed to the Pens last year at this time, though that one had a much more modest score (2-1). Sidney Crosby is still a handful, and he got a few dynamite chances, but we saw none of the breakdowns the Sharks commited against Columbus a few weeks ago in leaving Rick Nash alone in the slot, or the head scratcher against Washington in leaving Ovechkin alone on a 2-on-1. The Sharks quietly dominated play much of the game, and answered the bell with physicality when Pittsburgh got tired of being humiliated. I think Jody Shelley’s fight against Eric Godard was the best one I’ve seen him fight in two years.
The Sharks are again on top of the NHL in points (although Colorado is tied with us with a game in hand), and many of the kinks have worked themselves out. Pavelski, despite missing 15 games, was an integral part of everything last night. Malhotra chipped in on the power play. Scott Nichol continued his domination in faceoffs, got an assist, and had several scoring opportunities. We witnessed last night how good the Sharks can be. All this without Devin Setoguchi, Rob Blake, or Torrey Mitchell in the lineup. Of course the next question out most Sharks fans’ mouths will be “but can they do it in April?”
I’m getting tired of that question. I’m savoring this win.