San Jose Sharks Fans: 5 Reasons for Thanksgiving
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The Sharks won two more faceoffs and were even in giveaway/takeaway differential, but uncharacterstically did less with the possessions they had. The home team attempted just 40 shots and only got 21 through to the net while Chicago attempted 59 and got 34 of them to Antti Niemi.
Chicago blocked a higher percentage of shot attempts and missed a lower percentage. Considering they were on the attack almost half-again as much, the five-hit deficit was low. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford stopped every shot he could have, with the only goal being from Jason Demers on a double deflection.
A complete game. But they lost because Nemo stopped everything, including three full or partial breakaways and nine shots on four penalty kills to give his team a seven-penalty kill streak—noteworthy for a team that before the streak was worst in the league.
Great teams win games like that. A team that can do it gives its fans many reasons to be thankful, but this list will be limited to five with a Thanksgiving theme...
1. Leftover Cold Turkey
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Turkeys are not the only thing that tastes good as cold leftovers in the days after Thanksgiving. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and the Sharks are masters of it.
In Doug Wilson's tenure as Sharks General Manager, the Sharks have a winning record against every team who has knocked them out of the playoffs. They have won the season series against the Calgary Flames (2004), Edmonton Oilers (2006) and Dallas Stars (2008) more often than they have lost since being knocked out.
Against teams with a fowl-theme, the Sharks are even better. They are now 4-1 against the 'Hawks after Wednesday's win over Chicago, have two playoff-round victories over the Detroit Red Wings (2007)—perhaps the wings are red from hot sauce?—and won the season series both times since being knocked out by the Anaheim Ducks (2009).
Fans can look on the bright side that in those seven years, San Jose has been eliminated by seven different teams. That means half the teams they could face en route to the Stanley Cup Finals are no longer a threat.
Put Pickles on the Sandwich
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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is understandably nicknamed "Pickles." Up until this year, it fit his role as well as his last name: Vlasic was a great defender who was not a liability on the offensive end, making him the perfect complimentary piece.
This year, he has been the best defenseman on both sides of the ice with 11 points and a plus-11 rating that leads his unit and the team, respectively. He is one of only 18 players double-digit in both points and plus/minus rating, and one of only five on the blue line.
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If you have children, no holiday is complete without a family film for them to watch—preferably an animated one. Finding Nemo is a great choice.
After spending the first couple of weeks of the season recovering from a surgery to remove a cyst on his knee, Antti Niemi (nicknamed "Nemo") finally returned to action. In the meantime, the Sharks' backup goalie was also recovering from surgery, necessitating Thomas Greiss, who had fewer than 20 NHL starts, step in.
Greiss did fine and the Sharks did not need to go to an even more untested backup. They also found out that Greiss can handle the role well enough that they have not had to overwork Nemo after his return. Greiss has gone 4-3, but with a .929 save percentage and a 1.99 goals against average.
Nemo took some time to reach regular-season form, but with the Sharks' first shutout of the season Wednesday, he has found his game. He is 9-2-1 with a .923 save pct. and a 2.31 GAA, making the Sharks among the strongest teams in the NHL in net.
Something for Everyone's Tastes
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Personally, I have never understood why anyone likes that bean casserole every Thanksgiving meal has. This time of the year in most of the country, the beans are canned. So is the cream of mushroom soup and those fried onion bits are a processed food.
I am a carbs fan. I like my own garlic mashed potatoes (no gravy!) and stuffing. To each their own.
Like any good head of the household on Thanksgiving, Todd McLellan has provided fans with something for everyone.
San Jose blocks a higher percentage of shots taken than their opponents. They are a good faceoff team, and they take care of the puck better than in years past.
They are good on both ends of the ice, winning in high and low-scoring affairs. They have won physical games, speed games and shootouts. Whatever brand of hockey you want, they can do it.
Creme De La Creme
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No pumpkin pie or dessert (Irish?) coffee is complete without a dollop of whipped cream. Being from America's Dairyland just like Sharks' leading goal scorer Joe Pavelski, it has to be the best of the best (meaning real dairy cream!).
Because of all the aforementioned reasons Sharks fans are thankful, their team is sitting at the top of the league standings.
San Jose has earned 71.1 percent of the possible points in the standings and is the hottest team in the league over the last 15 games, going 12-2-1. They have the top goal differential in the Western Conference and are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the best road record in the league.