March 31st, 2010, 9:34 am
Although the Sharks didn’t play, last night was a great night for San Jose. The Hawks lost, 5 points behind with only one game in hand. The Coyotes lost, Breezy giving up 4 goals on 29 shots. And the Wings won, which in our Convoluted Calculus of Counterparties™ is actually a good thing. As loyal readers and listeners know, I want to avoid the Red Wings in the first round at all costs. Seriously, if it meant the Sharks had to dump the last six games of the season, I might be able to work up an argument for that. But as it happens, it’s not required. The Winged Wheel is on fire. They’ve won six straight, and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 games.
Detroit is now only one point behind Nashville. Given they have three (!) more games against the Blue Jackets and one against Philly (plus one against Nashville), I’d say their chances are very good they end up the five seed. My earlier prediction of the Sharks facing the Wings in the first round is getting dimmer by the day. With Phoenix faltering just a bit, I’m hoping this gives the Sharks an easy path to the #1 seed, hopefully facing the reeling Avs in the first round.
Speaking of reeling, how ’bout them Hawks? Their early season strategy of “who needs a decent goalie? We’ll just give up 20 shots a game and win anyway” isn’t working out so hot lately. Although they still lead the lead in shots allowed with 24.9, they’ve given up more than that in eight out of their last ten. One of the games where they did better than their average, they lost. To Columbus. Niemi got most of those starts, so does this mean they will go back to Huet? I’m sure Coach Q is just thrilled he has such a thoroughbred stable of goaltenders to choose from.
So the Sharks seem to be back in a good position, actually, a great one. They have a bit of competition from below in Phoenix, whose trapping style could easily eat up some teams struggling for motivation late in the season. They have Detroit on a run, destined for a seeding far from the Sharks’ first-round gun-sights. And Chicago’s once-impenetrable armor is now looking like Swiss cheese.
It’s a great opportunity to continue the run tonight against Dallas, who are all but eliminated from postseason play. No Modano means no Shark-killer. I say the win streak continues. Look for the podcast to be posted tonight sometime after the game.