CHICAGO - MAY 23: (2nd R) Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his second period goal with teammates Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44, Joe Pavelski #8 and Rob Blake #4 while taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It seems like the Hawks were just here in San Jose, and that's because they were.
Little more than two weeks ago Nick Boynton decided to be Kabuki Theater On Ice and give away any chance the Hawks might have had for two points, or any points for that matter when they faced the Sharks. He made two critical and galactically stupid giveaways in his own zone that doomed the Men of Four Feathers.
Other than that, it wasn't a poor effort at The Tank.
We're all praying it's for Boynton, but rumors are buzzing that Jordan Hendry might get back into the lineup tonight. But we're all praying for a massage from Elle McPherson, and that's not coming either.
The Sharks are returning home after a five-game trip out East. This will be the fourth time the 'Hawks catch a team on its first home game after a long trip (Vancouver, Anaheim, Los Angeles), which is always a tricky affair for the home side. The Sharks went 3-2 on said trip. They beat Philadelphia, Detroit and Ottawa while getting kicked in the gut by Buffalo and Montreal.
The Sharks have had the same wonky season the Hawks have had, a Western Conference Power that's had a little trouble getting all the lights on in the fort. Devin Setoguchi and Kent Huskins will miss tonight's game.
They've also had some problems getting full effort from top players, a serious malady around these parts. Patrick Marleau is a -16 (!) and has been demoted to the third line at times, as well as called out in the press. Marc Eduard Vlasic has not produced the offense from the blue line that everyone hoped for. Joe Pavelski only recently found his scoring touch (thanks to Boynton).
But on the other side, third line center Logan Couture is "NBA Jam" on fire (boom shakalaka!). He has 14 goals over all, and six in his last five. Top line threats Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley are starting to find that ol' black magic again.
The Sharks goaltending has been up and down, mostly because both these goalies depend on having the defense in front of them to help them out, which they haven't. Most of the time, the Sharks play a game that fits right into the 'Hawks hands. They get up and down the ice, they don't have an atom-smashing defense, and the Hawks exploit the space they find. But with all the injuries and the 'Hawks' need to keep things tight, it's going to get a lot harder, and The Tank was never an easy place to win. The Sharks will come out breathing diesel after being away for two weeks, the 'Hawks had better match that.