Friday, September 28, 2007

Can Sharks live up to preseason hype?

For one reason or another, the Sharks have been receiving a lot of love from media prognosticators this preseason, tabbed by many to either win the West, the Stanley Cup or both. First, the Canadian Press predicted the Sharks would win the franchise's first Cup this season. Then, The Hockey News polled knowledgeable pundits, with the Sharks being the Cup favorite among those media types as well. Soon to follow was EA Sports' simulation of the NHL season, concluding with the Sharks vanquishing Pittsburgh in six games for Lord Stanley. Now even ESPN has bought a pair of teal-colored glasses, with its most popular hockey-affiliated personalities, John Buccigross and Barry Melrose, crowning the Sharks the class of the West, with Buccigross predicting them to finish first in the conference and Melrose proclaiming San Jose the best team in the league. I'll get around to my own predictions in a couple of days and, while I think the Sharks will win the Pacific Division, even I'm not drinking the Sharks' Kool-Aid to the extent that I believe they are the unequivocal Cup favorites. Challenge for Lord Stanley they will, but unless the Sharks' five-on-five play improves to the level that they no longer need to rely on an oft-sputtering power play for offensive chances and the team defense continues to be a strong unit in the absence of Scott Hannan, it's tough to say whether San Jose will drink from the Cup next June. But there's definitely reason for Sharks fans to be optimistic as the season nears, and you don't need a sizable contingent of the hockey media to tell you that.

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