Saturday in San Jose.. and the part of the Road Trip that we’ve been looking forward to (and/or dreading) kicks in as the Hawks start the first of three dates with the Californian heavyweights.  San Jose are one of several teams now right in the Hawk’s rearview mirror, but they’ve hit a bit of a wobble themselves, having dropped the last three games to somewhat temper a recent hot-streak (they are now 6-4-0 in their last 10)

As ever, the Sharks are all about puck movement and speed, which sometimes works against Chicago and sometimes leads to disaster. We know all about Thornton and Marleau . Niemi will get the start tonight. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are both still out hurt.

As for the Hawks, it seems that the only casualty of their visit to Vegas was Marian Hossa..  no official word yet, but he missed practice due to cramp. Bryan Bickell skated in his place on the top line, and you know what? Might not be a bad place for Bicks to be. Crawford will get the nod in net.

Right, the last time I extolled how fun Hawks/Sharks games are we ended up with an absolute stinker, so I won’t make that mistake again. Instead, because it’s Saturday, I’ll let someone else do all the work.

Staci, from Newly-Minted blog The Canafornians was kind enough to answer my questions about the Sharks, Tomas Hertl and how much of a prick Dustin Brown is.  Questions in italics are mine, the rest is all her.. take it away, Staci

 

 So, who or what are the Canafornians?

 

Good question! The Canafornians are a hot new Pacific division blog except we really only cover San Jose, Calgary and Edmonton. It is run by myself,  Jeanshorts , and Floob. Fate brought us together, well that and the pain and suffering that our teams cause us. I’m fairly new to the blogging game but it’s been fun so far, plus Floob and Jeanshorts are great. Their videos and photoshops are top notch, their writing is excellent, and whenever I mess up the website (which is almost every time I post something), I bat my eyelashes, drop my handkerchief and the boys fix it for me. We’ve had 16 posts so far, and have gotten mostly positive feedback. We don’t take ourselves seriously at all, which makes the blog so much more fun. Bottom-line, Hawks fans should check us out when they’re not busy watching their team win cups and junk. It’ll be fun for them to see how the other half lives.

 

San Jose got off to a great start, hit a bit of a wobble and are now back among the elite of the only Conference that counts.. how do you see the rest of the season going? Can the Sharks finally make a run to the Cup?

You know, this team has had a lot of ups and downs this season. The Sharks have had a banged up group, from Hertl to Couture to Boyle to Havlat to Torres (but who cares about the last one) and so on. Losing Couture and Hertl definitely have hurt our offense, and aside from the last stretch of games this past week, the Sharks have been finding ways to win games with a heavily AHL lineup. I think if San Jose made one or two changes at the deadline (preferably defense), and when the forwards return from the IR, this is a scary good team. They don’t have a great bottom six as of late, but when those injured players come back, this team will have crazy depth. We are getting great goaltending from our backup, Al Stalock, which is something we haven’t had in previous years. Since Niemi left Chicago, he has been our workhorse, and at times he can be overworked. The fact that San Jose has two great goaltenders will be quite beneficial when it comes to playoff time. Al is seeing work against elite teams like Chicago and Los Angeles, which shows the kind of faith this team is beginning to have in him. I’m excited to see how it all pans out. Of course I think they can make a run for the cup, and on paper this is one of the deeper teams they have had in a while. Like last season’s playoffs, I think home ice will hold a lot of significance. Our playoff run will honestly depend on players getting healthy and staying healthy. If Hertl is back in time for playoffs as scheduled, oh man, imagine all the possibilities

 

 Anaheim are currently the ‘Class’ of the Pacific Division. But they still suck. And their fans give Vancouver a run for their money in the Tinfoil Hat stakes.. when can we expect the wheels to come off?

Oh man, this is great. I’m mostly annoyed by Anaheim because I live in Orange County. Most Ducks fans are generally awful and only care if they do well. Even doing as well as they are right now, the games aren’t selling out. I bought tickets in April to see San Jose at the Honda Center and ticket prices started at 14 dollars. It’s funny but hey I guess it works to my advantage. I don’t tend to get harassed at the Honda Center, which is nice; Staples Center is a completely different story. Even the fans that do care about the Ducks are more concerned with yelling at the refs than cheering for their team. It’s kind of embarrassing to be an Orange County hockey fan. The Ducks are scary but they were also scary last season. I could make jokes about them being an elite team that fails to advance in the playoffs, but that is the pot calling the kettle black. Boudreau is a great regular season coach but has yet to prove himself in the playoffs. I think if they come off the wheels, it’ll be because of a lack of discipline. Perry and Getzlaf tend to come unhinged because of calls, etc. If they can work through the bitching and moaning, well shit this team is scary and I will move.

 

Even if the Hawks win the Cup this year, Tomas Hertl’s Four-Goal Night will be one of my favourite memories of this Season. From the silky move on the 4th, to his goofy, broken-English interview “IS DREAM, NOT REALITY!!”, to the fact that his Mom was there watching. Wonderful. What Hockey is meant to be about. Only a complete Asshole with a heart of stone could dislike that. Enter Don Cherry. And then Dustin Brown happened. Please tell us how you feel about both those dickwads, how excellent Hertl is and also the “Cursl”.

 

Hahaha, oh goodness. Well, Don Cherry in my mind is a belligerent relative. You see him at events every once in a while and cannot believe the shit that comes out of his mouth, but it’s something to bond over with other relatives that you may not always see eye-to-eye with. Living in California and not watching HNIC that often (I do more now because of my Alberta business partners) helps not having to deal with Don Cherry. I usually hear about his dumb comments via twitter. Dustin Brown is an insufferable fuck. I’ve been a Brown hater for quite some time now, even before the Hertl incident. Before he was just good and annoying and physical and stupid but now he is just annoying and stupid. I’ve been enjoying his decline greatly the past couple seasons. He has completed a bunch of questionable acts in the past and since one of these questionable acts caused the most exciting player of the season to be out, he just really fucking pisses me off. I’m looking forward to his trade to Buffalo, where he can be a co-captain with Steve Ott.

 

Tomas Cursl is a totally real thing that is awesome and has caused the Los Angeles Kings to decline greatly in the 20 games since Dustin Brown assassinated Hertl. The Kings were 14-2-4, getting 32 points out of 40, in the 20 games before the incident and now they are 6-12-2, only getting 14 points out of 40, in the past 20. To give you an idea of how bad that is, Edmonton and Calgary are both 7-10-3 with 17 points in the past 20 games. A more in-depth, outdated analysis could be found here at The Canafornians

 

Hertl

Okay, on to the happy stuff. I personally think Hertl is the best thing to happen to the Sharks since the Thornton trade. Yeah, I said it. He is such a fun player to watch, has a great personality and that smile just melts my heartl. After getting bounced in the playoffs, as usual, I went into this season with the normal amount of dread and pessimism I have, but Hertl gave me this overwhelming feeling of hope that maybe things could be different this year. He has had such an impact on not only Sharks fans, but also fans of other teams, and the game in general, because he’s so fucking disrespectful. I was a Hertl superfan the first time I saw him play at the home opener and bought a jersey the first week of the season. I really miss him, man. It’s nice that we are still getting wins, gaining ground on other teams, but I miss the enthusiasm and spirit that he brought to my team.  Hopefully the water aerobics that he has been doing at the local senior center will speed up his recovery and he can help this team get to their first cup final before I die of a broken heart…. or before Havlat dies, whichever comes first.

How do you guys feel about the Hawks?.. it seems to me that Chicago and San Jose’s teams are cut from similar, puck-moving, high-speed cloth and I always enjoy their matchups.. who do you fear, is there anyone you hate and where do you think tonight’s game will be won?

Generally, we don’t really have bad blood with the Blackhawks and their fans. Of course we hate them because they are so good, but aside from that they are just a great team. I’m more worried about Chicago in the playoffs than I am worried about Anaheim. The depth of that team is just crazy and they are built to win for quite awhile. Andrew Shaw is kind of a turd but otherwise I respect that team. Chelsea Dagger is annoying but I respect it more than anything only because it is the trolliest goal song in the NHL. I was one of three people who liked Handzus in San Jose so it was great to see him win a cup finally. I am afraid of most on the Blackhawks, except for Corey Crawford. I don’t really think he’s that great, just has a good team in front of him.  SORRY I’M NOT SORRY. To be fair, San Jose makes a lot of goaltenders look great. I don’t know how tonight’s game is going to go, honestly. Both the Sharks and the Blackhawks have lost to the Calgary Flames this past week so I don’t understand or know anything anymore. Excuse me while I ponder existence.

 

Thanks to Staci and make sure you check out the Canafornians.. it’s a lot of fun.

 

Puck drops at.. jesus, that’s late