My Kings-fan buddy Leo and I regularly text each other during the NHL season. Leo’s a great guy (less his King fandom) and is a very knowledgeable hockey fan. We were texting the day that Nash got traded and here’s what he said: “So no Nash for sharks…same lineup coming back next year? …as a sharks fan i would not be ok with coming back with the same roster next season.” Leo’s thoughts have been echoed throughout sports chat boards. If gambling were legal, it would seem that the Sharks are NOT odds-on favorites to win the Cup, some books have them at +2000. That’s strange; without many changes you would think that a team would be predicted to finish around the same place they were predicted to the year before. But how can we possibly gain access to last year’s predictions?
Ahh, the Internet’s a cruel mistress. We can pull up old predictions and see where some major sports writers predicted the Sharks to finish at the end of the 2011-2012 campaign:
- 3 of 4 SI.com writers picked the Sharks to make the finals, 2 picked them to hoist the Cup
- 3 of 8 ESPN.com writers picked the Sharks to make the finals and win the Cup
- The Hockey News writers picked the Sharks to end up 2nd in the West
That last one’s the best of the bunch. Buried in that article: “Sharks are as dangerous as ever and no doubt continue as one of the league’s top franchises. It’s just a matter of how well and quickly the new players gel.” In other words, MORE time with the SAME players will let them “gel” better and should provide better results, right? Of course the Hockey landscape has changed a lot since then, and nowhere more than in our home division. The Kings got Carter and have turned themselves into Champions. The Dallas Stars made major offseason moves and are downright scary. If the Coyotes’ late season success continues they could be trade deadline buyers. Read the piece put together by staff writer aboyandhisteam to find out why the Sharks should be afraid, and this was put out before the Rangers made themselves a juggernaut with the Nash trade.
Still, Sharks fans, I like our chances. We barely got a taste of Havlat’s skill last season, because of his decidedly Havlatian injury. Brent Burns only became confident carrying the puck into the zone in the latter half of the season; a D-man who plays strong position defense, has a great shot and can dangle is a coach’s dream. Your BOT staff has been diligently tossing around potential defensive pairs and line combinations and it looks downright frighting. I would put the Sharks’ top-6 against anyone’s in the NHL and our D has only gotten better.
These days it’s tough talking to Leo. He’s confident. He’s cocky. He’s in LA but I’m imagining he’s holding just about everything he can get his hands on the same way John Cusack did the radio in Say Anything…just like the Cup. Toward the end of our our texting Leo said his Kings were clear Western Conference Champs favorites and that considering any other team was a “huge stretch.” I had to call him out. Me: “The Hockey Gods do not like hubris.” Leo: “I’ve already met the hockey gods ;)” See you in October, Leo.
Best Summer Olympic Events
- Shot Put
- Waiting for the 2014 Winter Olympics to start
Want to debate a list? Tweet me @bluelineboomer