looks like he will get the start again against his former club and there was no question the media circus surrounding him was much less than for his initial match against the team he won the Stanley Cup with.
“It’s going to be a tough game and they are still the number one team to beat,” Niemi said.
“Our starter is going to have to be sharp and get us out of the gate while we find our legs and establish our game. Then we expect him to play a solid game in all situations,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said.
The Blackhawks haven’t run from the pack like last year, but there is no one in the room doubting their talent.
“They have a ton of skill and you can’t go to sleep on them on any shift. It will be a big challenge,” Patrick Marleau
Regardless of the opponent, the Sharks are working to earn a win versus focusing on the jersey the other club is wearing. They want to win Saturday and continue on.
“I think we put in some pretty good efforts (on the road), but you want to get that winning streak and keep it going, not just a couple of games,” Marleau said.
Devin Setoguchi was on with his teammates and noted he’d been back skating for a bit. He had returned from the last road trip to be further evaluated by the doctor and he and Kent Huskins are both getting closer to returning.
“No go tonight and from there it’s day-to-day,” McLellan said. “Some of them have been out for a little while now. It’s as much about re-establishing legs and lungs as much as it is getting healthy.”
Setoguchi has a new look going as he gave himself a haircut close to the scalp while back in San Jose. He’d done it for luck a year ago and had success, but there was a different reason for this clip.
“Just because I getting (bored),” Setoguchi said. “You start doing stuff when you’re not doing anything. I wasn’t on the road, I was at home by myself and I figured I would shave my head in the kitchen. Straight out of boredom.”
He joked about crediting the head shaving to on ice success last year.
“You can’t use that every year,” Setoguchi joked. “You have to use it every four to five years. You can’t bring it out to easily.”
The Sharks and Blackhawks are separated by two points, but the entire Western Conference is close.
“Every night is a playoff game,” McLellan said. “That can be a really good thing for our team or it can come back and bite you.”
The Blackhawks haven’t played since Wednesday and have been waiting in San Jose as the Sharks few cross country from Buffalo. Could that be an advantage for the visitors?
“Common sense says yes, they are in and they are a little more rested,” McLellan said. “It’s the National Hockey League. Every team plays 82 games and (the schedule) is not always going to work in your favor. We can do one of two things tonight. We can come out and empty our tanks on the ice and throw everything we can at them or we can use it as an excuse and look up at the end of the night and say we were tired. I’d like to think we have the character in the lockerroom that we pick the first option.”
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. Chicago contest can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.sjsharks.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.