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San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks Early Playoff Test

sharksfan As we prepare for visits from both participants of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals I’m excited and nervous about what might transpire. I’m very happy with the Sharks’ 7-2 record but tentative to get too excited about it. Since we evaluated the Sharks victories they’ve continued the trend beating only the Tampa Bay Lightning who, at the time they dropped the puck, only had one win. That means the Sharks’ 7 victories have come against teams with a win total of….2.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-2) come to town tonight followed by the Detroit Red Wings (currently 7-1-1) on Thursday. I think either way this is a perfect opportunity for the Sharks given the even higher expectations for the team this year.

If they perform well we can take comfort that The Plan is on the right track. We’ll have evidence that perhaps the offseason acquisitions are standing up to an early season test. We certainly know that the team has figured out how to take advantage of home ice (remember last year’s record at The Tank?). And even if we’re not exactly sure Todd McLellan is the right coach for the Sharks, at least we know firing Ron Wilson wasn’t a catastrophic decision (which I think most Sharks fans already know).

If they perform poorly then it gives the team an early wake up call. Despite their 7-2 record the Sharks might, at this stage of the game, be just a good team and not yet a great team. It gives them over 70 games to figure out why that is and do whatever it takes to become the team they need to be…if they want the hardware.

How I assess of the team’s performance, meaning whether or not they perform well, will not necessarily be based on wins or losses. The whole Plan for this year is that the Sharks need to play like champions if they want to win it all. It isn’t necessarily about winning and losing at this point, we all know the Sharks can win now. It’s about that controversial question of character and heart, of playing up to the challenge. These two games are as good as a challenge as one could hope for this early in the season. This is as close to a playoff atmosphere as you can get. What I hope to see is a team that plays its heart out for a minimum of 120 minutes.

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