Sharks Feel Heat As Home Stretch Approaches

San Jose Sharks versus the Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Joe…and here’s to you Swedish-born hair band rockers.

I woke up with Europe’s “The Final Countdown” in my head, and as relentless, looping internal soundtracks for your day go it’s honestly pretty hard to beat.  Though keenly aware that 1980’s hair rock should always be taken in moderation, I really can’t think of a better song to get you ready for tonight’s Sharks game…or charging a machine gun nest full of Victor Charlie than T-F-C.

Not that any Sharks versus Red Wings game needs a fluffer, but I guarantee that if you watch “The Final Countdown” official video pre-game, any lingering, residual hangover effects from this past long weekend will be gone in about the time it takes your synapses to register the pure awesome playing out before you.

Of course, not to personally ever be content with good enough, I just took it up a notch and watched a live version (below) of “The Final Countdown” on YouTube and basically feel like I need to go chop a ½ cord of firewood or my head might explode.  I danced a little too close to the sun.  Wait…Ryan Smyth plays keys?

They talk about Twitter starting revolutions?  I’d like to see how fast an oppressed mass of people could organize and overthrow greed soaked tyranny if an opposition leader just blasted a little Europe on the speakers.

I mean, I’m following that guy.

Suffice to say, it’s the home stretch for the Sharks and my mind is wandering a tad.  Where will the Sharks end up?  Who will be their first round opponent?  Is there time for another Shark to step up his game?  More lightning in a bottle yet to emerge?  Will Antti Niemi actually wind up doing exactly what he was brought here to do?

All these questions and more just swirling in my head as I try to reconcile what exactly the world will look like in a few weeks for Team Teal.  The anticipation for the “Second Season” is percolating, and amazingly, considering the various obstacles in the road earlier this year, a Sharks team that begged for a winning identity all year has seemed to have found one in the nick of time.

“Obstacles” might be a little too tame a term to describe the Sharks struggles with consistency earlier this season; it was more like the Mojave Desert in the dead of summer with no supplies.  The unyielding obstacles of invisible stars, inconsistent goal tending, cohesive defensive play, lack of team grit and an all around inability to carry good play forward for more than a game at a time seemed insurmountable.

It was 120 degrees out, there was no team chemistry to be found and Torrey Mitchell had just shotgunned the last Gatorade.

All the while this was taking place and the Sharks were off on their mountaintop trying to find themselves, the Pacific Division turned into one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL with any one of the five member teams capable of moving up to the top of the standings in the span of a week with a little luck.

As of right this second, the Phoenix Coyotes lead the Division with 73 points, followed by the Sharks at 72 and then a logjam at 68 points where Anaheim, Dallas, and Los Angeles are duking it out.  The good news is that the Sharks are playing white hot right now, rattling off 12 wins in their last 15 games played, but the bad news is that their sleepy start to the season has made that kind of volcanic play requisite to making it to, much less advancing in the playoffs.

Tonight, they face a regular tenant atop the standings in the Detroit Red Wings.  The Wings sit in their usual perch high above the Central Division and trail only the Vancouver Canucks in the entire Western Conference.  Winners of five straight and scoring in bunches, the Red Wings have fought off their own versions of malaise of inconsistency this season to right their own ship just in time for the push.

Now, anybody who knows the Sharks knows that playing away games at Joe Louis Arena might embody the exact polar opposite of a home ice advantage.  The Joe is a very hostile corner, and the Sharks are going to have to play through early mistakes and just bad mojo or risk looking like somebody removed the skates from their blades.

Perhaps, it is just as simple as the Sharks needing the devil breathing down their neck in the standings to finally harness their potential and focus…and if that’s the case, mission accomplished fellas.  Game on.


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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Antti Niemi Detroit Red Wings Los Angeles Kings Phoenix Coyotes San Jose Sharks Torrey Mitchell

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