Sunday, November 2, 2008
Sharks v Avalanche
(This is what you get when Gray is busy and I get put in charge of game previews. Sorry.)
The Sharks are in Colorado tonight looking to go 10-2. I never thought at the beginning of the season that the Sharks would be this successful this early. Cause, seriously, this is nuts. Amazingly they are tied for 5th in the league in GFA with 3.27 and 4th in GAA with 2.27. This Todd McLellan thing is really starting to work out. Seeing the Sharks beat the two teams from last year's Stanley Cup Finals was very encouraging, particularly watching how they beat them. The Sharks handled both teams fairly well, out shooting them 67-38 (to be fair to Detroit, the Pens only managed 11 shots in their game). In fact the Sharks are 2nd in the league with 36.9 shots per game and 1st in the league with 23.4 shots against. Their shot differential of 13.5 per game is almost 5 shots better than the next team (Detroit). As the team that was known more for passing than shooting last year (averaging 29.6 shots per game last year), this is a refreshing change.
I would feel better if the thing the McLellan was supposed to improve, the power play, was better than 18.7%. They have had a huge number of opportunities to get goals but only have 70 goals in 375 opportunities. The penalty kill jumped up during the week now at 86% and #1 in the league (from 82.4% before the Pens game). By contrast, Colorado is in the middle of the league in both GFA and GAA (2.63 and 2.73) and 28th in power play efficiency at 14.6% (ouch!) and 20th with a 81.4% penalty kill.
Colorado is last in the ever competitive Northwest Division with a 5-5 record and 10 points. They appear to be a streaky team, opening with 3 losses, winning 5 in a row, and losing the last 2 games. From that point, it looks like the Sharks are catching the Avs at the right time as opposed to last week when they had won 5 in a row. Still the Avs have Milan Hejduk (whose name I pronounce differently from Milan Michalek) and Master of the Universe Paul Stastny and the ability to shut down teams with Peter Budaj (BUDAJ!). And of course, Joe Sakic, Darcy Tucker, Adam Foote, and old Shark Scott Hannan.
Prediction: (Yes, I'm back to predictions) I suck at guessing scores and always seem to jinx stuff when I do. I do foresee Shelley vs. Foote/Tucker round 1 and Ryane Clowe making a case to take the title of Master of the Universe from Stastny.