February 14th, 2010, 11:08 am
If the regular season were to end today at the Olympic break and 62 game mark, the San Jose Sharks would once again be the #1 seed in the Western Conference, but not the President’s Trophy winner – that dubious distinction would go to the Washington Capitals. Capping off a 4-2 road trip that ended on with a particularly lame effort last night in Buffalo, here’s what else we’re left to ponder for two weeks.
If the season ended today:
The Sharks would likely field a 4th line of skilled players in the playoffs who will play the body, create actual scoring chances and threaten their opponents 3rd pairing with speed, unlike last years combo of Cheechoo, Grier and Shelley. This is good news and should help the Sharks get past their postseason blues.
Doug Wilson would be left with unfinished business. He still needs to address the lack of quality blueline depth and hopefully seeing Rob Blake’s dismal final three games of the road trip (-2 and two horrible penalties vs. Detroit that should have cost the Sharks the game, especially the one in OT), Doug Wilson must add another d-man who can play 20+ minutes and lessen the burden on the 40 year old Blake, who is really showing his immobility and age down the stretch. Trading Shelley helps and created a 750k cushion for either the permanent stay of Jamie McGinn or for Wilson to add someone of significance. I’m sure if something happens it will come out of nowhere, in typical Doug Wilson fashion – but watching Blake this last week confirmed my opinion – something MUST happen for the Sharks to beat Detroit or Chicago in May, or we’ll see more of Blake skating in cement as Kane and Datsyuk glide right around him.
The Sharks would draw Calgary in the first round, as the standings sit today. Could be worse (Detroit), could be better (Nashville). Calgary is a team in turmoil and they still haven’t found any rhythm since making major roster changes two weeks ago, losing three of their last four. The Flames are never an easy draw, but Brent Sutter has been a lousy playoff coach – with both his Devils teams losing in the first round his two years there. I feel confident we could beat Calgary in 5 or 6 max.
Some people say it’s to the Sharks advantage to finish 2nd and avoid the pressure of #1, but I say – Hell’s No. There is enough separation right now between Colorado at #6 with 76 points and the group clogged up for the final two spots (Detroit, Nashville, Dallas, Calgary, Anaheim and St. Louis) that the probability that Detroit will end up #7 is pretty damn high. Avoid the 2nd seed at all costs, or a date with Detroit awaits. I’ve championed the Curse of the Blackhawks all season, their dealings with Martin Havlat and RFA madness in the offseason created bad hockey karma and it will all come crumbling down around them when they draw Detroit in Round One. MAKE IT SO HOCKEY GODS! This is why San Jose must stay #1. It’s critical to our postseason success. All roads must go through Detroit – and it wouldn’t be a Cup run within having to beat the best – but let’s not have it be in the first round. We all know the ending to that fairy tale.