Perhaps a little lost among the whole Sean Avery, Elisha Cuthbert, Dion Phaneuf drama was Ron Wilson's return to San Jose to face his old team. On paper the odds did not look good for coach Wilson. The Sharks were 20-3-1 going into Tuesday's game and have been tearing up the league offensively while playing stingy defense. However, past history shows that when a coach or player returns to face his old team his teammates rally around him and help lift him to victory, even when the odds are stacked against him.
Sadly for Ron Wilson this was not one of those times.
San Jose superstar, Joe Thornton put up a goal and added three assists to lead the first place Sharks to a 5-2 win. With the win San Jose improved to 21-3-1, matching the best 25 game start in NHL history. The only other team to have 43 points at the 25 game mark was the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup that year in dominant fashion. Can the San Jose Sharks do the same this year?
I've been a little surprised by the lack of post-season success shown by the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators over the past few seasons. Ottawa looks like they have missed their window, but something tells me San Jose is still peaking, and there is a good chance this is their year.
Granted, it is still early in the season. There is still a lot of hockey left to play before we even start to think about the Stanley Cup. Yet there is something about the Sharks this year that has been missing from previous seasons. There is a cohesiveness about the team, and a determination that was lacking in the past. When Evgeni Nabokov went down with an injury the team hardly missed a beat, and backup Brian Boucher was excellent when called upon.
Ironically, it might be Ron Wilson who can take credit for the newfound character of this team, though not necessarily for the reason he might wish. When Wilson was let go by the team he showed his towering ego by taking a lot of credit for the success of the team during his tenure there. This no doubt ruffled some feathers in the Sharks locker room. After all, the players were the ones doing the performing. I don't think Wilson can take much credit for Joe Thornton putting up 92 points in just 58 games after coming over from Boston in a trade in the 2006-07 season. After hearing Wilson's parting comments Jumbo Joe and his teammates might just feel a little extra motivation to prove their ex-coach wrong. I wonder if he got the message Tuesday night?
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