Will Bettman hand the Stanley Cup to Joe Thornton after the final buzzer goes off signalling the end to the last game of the Cup Finals? As a fan, I can't predict the future. I do know the journey is a long one: 82 regular games on the road to the Cup, along with four sets of play-off series (16 wins minimum) in a best-of-7. Guys play with fractures, sprains, bruises, lacerations, and grab-bag of miscellaneous other issues.
I'd offer up jockeys and rodeo cowboys as two other types of athletes as tough as hockey players. At least hockey players & cowboys don't have an ambulance follow them around a track as do the jockeys, so as to who is tougher, it's a difficult choice.
So how did the Sharks do in the pre-season? The number of games played wasn't even with all teams. The Team Teal played a total of six games, winning five. They lost their last one to Phoenix, 3-1. According the ESPN's NHL stats, here are the pre-season rankings, broken down according the Eastern and Western Conference.
A few key points to notice. Only Dallas had a better +/ differential (+15) than the Sharks (+12), but Dallas played one more game than San Jose. The Sharks were the only team with a goals against in single digits (8). The New York Rangers were next with a 10. San Jose had six teams above them in the goals for department, scoring 20 goals. They were 3-0 at home and 2-1 on the road.
What does this mean? With Niemi and Niittymaki still recovering from off-season surgeries, the Sharks can rest knowing they can count on netminder Thomas Greiss to protect the crease with the help of the D-men. Captain Big Joe Thornton is leading his offensive scoring partners to the opposing team's side and getting the puck to the net. As long as the team stays healthy, and mentally focused, they are on track to get the job done.
Here's to a fun season with the end result of hoisting the Cup!
|Tampa Bay||6||3||3||0||6||3||0||0||1-2-0||2-1-0||19||17||+2||3-3-0||Lost 1|
|New Jersey||6||3||3||0||6||3||0||0||2-1-0||1-2-0||11||14||-3||3-3-0||Won 2|
|NY Rangers||3||1||1||1||3||1||0||0||0-0-1||1-1-0||8||10||-2||1-1-1||Lost 1|
|NY Islanders||5||1||4||0||2||1||0||0||1-1-0||0-3-0||11||14||-3||1-4-0||Lost 3|
|San Jose||6||5||1||0||10||5||0||0||3-0-0||2-1-0||20||8||+12||5-1-0||Lost 1|
|St. Louis||8||5||3||0||10||5||0||0||2-2-0||3-1-0||19||18||+1||5-3-0||Lost 1|
|Los Angeles||7||3||2||2||8||3||0||2||0-2-2||3-0-0||17||15||+2||3-2-2||Lost 1|