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Blackhawks Back for More

Didn’t we just play these guys?

The San Jose Sharks welcome the Chicago Blackhawks back to HP Pavilion tonight, and if anybody would like to weigh in and explain the NHL scheduling system to me, I’m all ears. The last time these two teams met in San Jose was all the way back in late November and featured story lines a plenty. In addition to facing the defending Stanley Cup Champions for the first time, it was also Antti Niemi‘s first game against his former team.  That night, the Tank was rocking, the Sharks were motivated and San Jose sent Chicago packing with a 5-2 win. On the more melancholy side, that particular victory would go on to launch the beginning of the see-saw win loss pattern, one that drove fans stark raving nuts for weeks, as the Sharks alternated looking like champs and chumps every other night.

That game was also against a fully stacked and healthy Chicago team, and unfortunately for the Blackhawks this time around, they will be missing two of their most potent offensive contributors in Marian Hossa and the recently dinged up Patrick Kane. On the Sharks side, they are a little healthier on the blue line since these teams last met, with Jason Demers back in the fold. They are also rested after returning from an East Coast swing which saw them grab three wins in five stops. So, no excuses tonight. The Hawks are battered, the Sharks are healthy and at home.  San Jose needs to take care of business.

I was more than happy to give the Sharks a mulligan after their loss in Buffalo a couple nights ago. That game was a back-to-back tilt, and after a taxing and emotional Sharks victory in Philadelphia the previous night. That San Jose kept it so close versus the Sabres, considering how their bodies were essentially breaking down the in third period, evidenced great heart on the Sharks’ part. That said, heart alone doesn’t win ball games, but add another tally by the white hot Logan Couture to the pile and throw together a few games with a staff of fully healthy defensemen, and we are finally seeing the Sharks close to fully healthy.  They are featuring new weapons, playing more balanced in the last few games since getting key guys back, and might actually be poised to make a run and break up the logjam of the Western Conference.

It’s time to show some pride tonight, versus just regressing into a middle of the pack playoff team. Nobody is taking us seriously and it’s hard to blame them.  We crush and crumble on successive nights, so why would they?  Thing is, I think (hope) that attitude of acquiescence died that night in Philadelphia, when pride and skill meshed beautifully to battle back late and pull out a victory over the Flyers. The time has come to build upon that as our team makeup, make that our rallying call and defend the damn homeland!

There is no reason why the Sharks shouldn’t have their skate on the collective Blackhawk neck tonight, from the drop of the puck on. They are injured and missing superstars, featuring no names in prominent roles and are a rookie goalie sensation away from dropping like a rock into obscurity. Well, at least they should be…but the S.O.B.’s have actually rattled off 8 wins in their last 11 games, which is grating in and of itself.

Throw in that I get to constantly hear about it from Chicago transplant buddies, who persist in rattling on in their melodious Midwestern accents, about the paahwer of their hackey team and enough already.  Honestly, Chicago is a killer city, but the accent isn’t exactly British aristocracy.  Nope, not a Chicago hater.  I lived at Grace and Southport in Wrigleyville years ago, my favorite spot was “Cullen’s”, I avoided Bucktown because I loved life, drank Brazilian cocktails to my heart’s content at “Mas” and fed this weird Cuban music phase at “Green Dolphin Street”.  So really, I cannot say enough about the city…great town.

Sure, they like to have Klan rallies 20 minutes outside of the city, but y’know…great bars and restaurants!  Seriously, imagine throwing on the news tonight and hearing the anchor caution folks about “watching out for the traffic tonight in Menlo Park due to the Klan march”. That actually happened to me first night in Chicago back in the day, absolutely true story. I was sitting in bleak corporate housing somewhere Downtown, eating “Big Bowl” takeout, and I almost put noodles out of my sheltered, progressive, California native nose. 20 minutes away huh?…where am I?

So, as the saying goes, “you’re not in Kansas anymore”…but when in Chicago…you’re just real, super close.

You want a game preview where I compare face off totals and the respective head coaches’ breakout plays, go check out You want to know what hotel the teams are staying at so you go jock sniff and creep out?  Not here either.  Now, you want blind vitriol and low blow attacks on one of America’s finest cities for no other reason outside of the fact that their hockey team is playing ours tonight? Come here!

I’m sorry, it’s just the frustration in not knowing which Sharks team will show up tonight talking here. We could run the Blackhawks out of the rink tonight, and we absolutely should…or we could give up 7 goals and get run. The Sharks play has made me jumpy and I’m lashing out, so apologies to all Chicagoans if you think your accent makes you sound distinguished

…at least give me at a little credit for avoiding the whole “First Thanksgiving” parody comparison (“Patrick Kane as Pocahontas”, etc) the last time the Sharks and Blackhawks met a couple weeks ago, the day before Thanksgiving.


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Tags: Antti Niemi Chicago Blackhawks Logan Couture San Jose Sharks

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