GAME DAY: at San Jose
Jackets begin four-game road trip in Shark Tank
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. San Jose Sharks
WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio (HD) | LISTEN: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com
GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:
|After starting with one win in their first four games this season, the San Jose Sharks came under immediate scrutiny for the slow start but quickly shook off the cobwebs. They followed by going 8-1-1 in their next 10 contests and haven’t looked back. Head coach Todd McLellan is at the helm of one of the NHL’s most consistent teams, and a team that scores in bunches - especially on home ice at HP Pavilion.
The Sharks have one of the strongest and most dangerous group of forwards in the league, led by captain Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and a couple of youngsters in Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. Entering last night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks were 5-1-1 in their last seven games and showed the ability to score at-will. They dropped five goals in a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 15, and two games later, lit the lamp seven times against the Tampa Bay Lightning – a game in which the Sharks led 5-0 after the first period.
The knock on the Sharks has long been their inability to reach the Finals, but this year they look to be more equipped than ever. They are getting outstanding goaltending from Antti Niemi, who already has one Stanley Cup under his belt, with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Finnish netminder is 16-7-4 this season with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage, making McLellan’s goalie decisions quick and easy on a nightly basis.
Seldom-used backup Thomas Greiss has played well when called upon, and may get the start tonight vs. the Blue Jackets with Niemi having played against the Ducks last night.
San Jose’s mobile defense gives it a legitimate chance to win on most nights, and GM Doug Wilson added another offensive piece over the summer by acquiring Brent Burns from the Minnesota Wild. Along with Dan Boyle, Marc Edouard-Vlasic and Jason Demers, the Sharks have a defense corps that can start the rush and finish plays. Their power play is always one of the best in the league, and a key to victory in San Jose is to stay disciplined and keep the Sharks off the power play.