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Being on West Coast gives Sharks an advantage

Tuesday, 02.10.2009 / 2:26 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Based on scouting, the slight edge has to go to the San Jose Sharks for Tuesday night's game against the Boston Bruins.

It comes down to time zones.

When the Sharks arrive for games at HP Pavilion, the televisions in their locker room are already blaring out the games going on back East. If the Bruins are playing that night, the Sharks will gravitate toward that television.

"Obviously we like to keep an eye on the Western teams," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told NHL.com, "but we watch the Bruins over most Eastern teams."

The Bruins don't have that same luxury.

By the time they're done playing, the Sharks are just heading onto the ice for warm-ups. They don't get to see too much of the Western Conference, so they try to keep up with the Sharks and Detroit Red Wings, their main competition for the Presidents' Trophy, via highlights and box scores.

"If you're in this business you are looking at a lot of hockey games and (San Jose) is really interesting," Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson told NHL.com. "They have some really skilled players that can fly. Just seeing them play is fun, but I haven't seen them play that many times over the year."

Even with the added advantage of time, Sharks defenseman Rob Blake couldn't say that he has sensed any weaknesses in the Bruins. Perhaps that will change tonight, but "right now, that's the thing," Blake told NHL.com. "I don't know."

Blake instead said he watches the Bruins because of their depth. He enjoys seeing them roll four lines. He watches Zdeno Chara and admits he tries to steal bits and pieces from his game, at least the parts he knows he's capable of handling.

Physically speaking, the Sharks are slightly bigger than the Bruins on paper, but Blake pointed to the dry erase board that had their lines listed and went through each one, pointing at different guys and saying how physical they are.

"(Milan) Lucic is big. (Blake) Wheeler is big," he said. "(Chuck) Kobasew and Axelsson get in on you. (Shawn) Thornton's line has been very good. They have the pieces on each line to be physical and to make plays."

While the Bruins know more about the Sharks today because they have been preparing to play them for two days, they already respected San Jose mainly because of its place in the Western Conference standings.

"You can't ignore how well those guys have been playing," Wheeler said. "You respect what they do. A team that rattles off a ton of wins in a row, you can't ignore them. You're going to look and say, 'Wow, those guys are having a great year.' "

"Obviously we like to keep an eye on the Western teams, but we watch the Bruins over most Eastern teams."
-- Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle

The Sharks already know why the Bruins are having a great year.

Advantage Sharks?

We'll find out soon.

"It's super for hockey to have a game like this in mid-February," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "There is so much buzz around it."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


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