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30 Teams in 30 Days: San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are coming into the upcoming season with high expectations.  Does that sentence sound familiar?  Each of the past several seasons, the Sharks have been expected to do some serious damage, but falter in the playoffs.  A coaching change has finally been made, with cocky Ron Wilson given his walking papers in favour of Red Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan.  Have fun with Carlo Colaiacovo this year Ron!  With a new head coach behind the Sharks bench for the first time in a while, the hope is to light a fire under this team when it matters most.   A few offseason player moves were also made to change the on-ice product, with hopes of finally hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug at the end of the season.  A strong regular season is almost a sure thing these days in the Silicon Valley – now it’s time to step it up a notch in the playoffs.


The Shark forwards this season will be more or less the same as last season, plus the addition of a healthy Ryane Clowe for the entire season.  The power forward with a cult following and questionable hands will look to build on his great 2008 playoff performance.  Furthermore, will the real Jonathan Cheechoo please stand up?  After an incredible season three years ago, the Cheechoo Train has been derailed with back-to-back disappointing regular seasons, despite his Pop Mervin Cheechoo frequently in attendance.  Look for Cheech to rebound this season, or his goal total will once again go up in smoke.  Finally, Joe Thornton is obviously still key to the success of the Sharks.  After shedding his moniker of “No Show Joe” during last year’s playoffs, Thornton will once again be essential to the Sharks’ success.  Look for Thornton to take this team on his shoulders and start going to the net with more authority, as opposed to staying on the perimeter, which he was highly criticized of doing in previous seasons.

Here are how the forward lines shape up (note that the 3rd and 4th lines will likely be continuously shuffled due to Torrey Mitchell’s recent injury):

Marleau – Thornton – Cheechoo
Michalek – Pavelski – Clowe
Grier – Roenick – Setoguchi
Plihal – Goc – Shelley


Although many Sharks Byte fans were saddened with the loss of Brian Campbell to unrestricted free agency, the fact of the matter is the newly acquired Dan Boyle is a better defenseman.  While Campbell may be a hair faster, Boyle still does possess great speed and vision with the puck.  His outlet pass is tops in the league, and can quarterback a power play with the best of them.  Where he really excels over Campbell is in his defensive play, with Campbell acting more or less like a fourth forward for the majority of the time.  Sorry figure skating fans – you won’t catch Boyle doing a pirouette at his own blue line like Campbell.  In addition to Boyle, Rob Blake has been brought in for his veteran presence and booming point shot.  Brad Lukowich was also added for his physical presence.  Combine that with M-E Vlasic and Douglas Murray (by the way he’s Swedish, and not from a farm in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, despite the way his name sounds), and you’ve got a solid core of blueliners.  McLaren has even been on the block lately due to all of the existing talent.  Carle and Rivet are both gone from last year, but their inconsistent play won’t be missed.

To break it down, here is all the D:

Boyle, Ehroff, Blake, Vlasic, Murray, Lukowich, McLaren


Nabokov got the lion’s share of games played last year, with Brian Boucher filling in quite admirably after a late season acquisition.  Boucher should play a few more games this year, although Nabby should still see a fair share of action between the pipes


Ceiling: 1st in the Pacific division, first in the West
Floor: 2nd in the Pacific division, 4th in the West

One thing we do on the IC Hockey Show, in addition to hours of Jets talk, is have a whole lot of fun.

Check out the replay or download the podcast from the show this morning.

Also speaking from Chicago was Jets head coach Rick Bowness.

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