With Patrick Marleau
’s record numbers this season and Evgeni Nabokov becoming only the second goalie in the NHL to win 40-plus games in three consecutive seasons, it is understandable if one happens to overlook Ryane Clowe
Clowe statistically is having a career year posting career-highs in points (56) and assists (37). He’s also just one goal away from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the second consecutive season.
The winger doesn’t equate stronger play to just the numbers, but more in a general sense of becoming a better player year in and year out.
“I think you always want to improve year by year,” said Clowe. “I don’t set numbers. I’m sure the guys like Heater and Patty think about 40 or 50 goals and Joe the same with assists. Myself, I’ve got to think of myself within the system.”
If “within the system” means the coach’s confidences in you, then the big left winger is on the right track.
When Sharks’ ironman Joe Thornton
went down with his first ever injury as a Shark, Clowe was awarded with the Alternate Captain’s "A" on his jersey. While it doesn’t demand press conferences, but that may be the biggest compliment a player like Clowe could ask for.
“He’s been very (vocal) in the lockerroom,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan of the Newfoundland native’s leadership ability.
Clowe has a unique ability to flow seamlessly into play on any given line and it’s made all possible because of his team first attitude.
“I’ll try to compliment the guys I play with,” said Clowe, who sees primarily second line duty for the Team Teal. “I don’t mind (moving around) as long as I get an opportunity to play and make my linemates better.”
Clowe’s career year both on and off the ice will be vital to the Sharks when the second season opens up. The Sharks know they can’t ride one line through four rounds of postseason play and are confident they will get input from all lines.
“Depth is always the key,” said Clowe. “This year it is one of our strong points.”
McLellan and fans alike hope Clowe will continue into the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Five days to go and still nothing is decided with regards to whom the Sharks’ first round opponent might be.
Adjustments were made with regards to where the Sharks will finish in the conference and division, but that does nothing in respect to a prospective opponent in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
San Jose clinched their fifth franchise Pacific Division title in the last nine years with last night’s win in Calgary. With the division wrapped up, the Sharks ensured themselves that they will finish no worse than second in the conference.
In fact, if San Jose maintains their two points lead on Chicago, they will finish first in the Western Conference and complete the regular season with one of the top two records in the NHL for a third consecutive season as the top seed in the West and also a second straight year.
In the grand scheme of things, the Sharks are more concerned with how they are playing than who they are playing. With a 6-1-1 record in the last eight games, things appear to be headed toward the right direction.
Holding onto the first seed in the West would pit San Jose against Colorado in a 1-8 affair. Colorado trails the seventh spot by three points with just three games to play.
Should Chicago slip past San Jose for the top seed out West, then it is wide open who the opponent would be.
San Jose’s lead currently sits at two points, but Chicago has an extra game to play and owns the tie breaker of most wins.
The current standings have Nashville in fifth (80 GP, 98 points), Los Angeles sixth (79 GP, 97 points) and Detroit seventh (79 GP, 96 points). Both Nashville and Los Angeles would own with first tiebreaker over the Red Wings.
In short, way too many possibilities to even venture a guess at the final results with a handful of games remaining in the regular season.
The Worcester Sharks hit the 100-point plateau for the first time in franchise history this season. Congrats to the Worcester Sharks.
The Sharks will host Vancouver Thursday night at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 battle between two division winners. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.