Feb 5, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) battles against Chicago Blackhawks center Michael Frolik (67) during the first period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks Take On League's Best In Chicago: Game Preview

The San Jose Sharks (7-3-3) are in Chicago tonight to face the Blackhawks (10-0-3), or better known as the best team in the league.

The last time these two teams met these were the top two teams in the conference.  Since then, however, the Sharks have been unable to find a groove and are in the midst of a six-game losing streak while the Blackhawks STILL have not lost a regulation game.

San Jose’s struggles have continued onto this road trip where they have lost the first two games of their six-game road trip against Columbus and Nashville.

They played their worst game of the season against the Blue Jackets, then consequently had a pretty decent game against the Predators.  Unfortunately, they ran into one of the best goalies in the league in Pekka Rinne who just seems to have their number.  The one good thing to take out of the game was that the Sharks did earn a point due to the game going into overtime.

Meanwhile, Chicago just had a four-game winning streak snapped against the Anaheim Ducks when they lost to them in overtime 3-2.  They have earned 23 out of a possible 26 points this season and are not showing signs of slowing down.

They are led by Patrick Kane who is tied for second in the league with 20 points including nine goals, which is two shy of league leader Thomas Vanek.  Kane has been playing very well this season and has only had one game where he did not register a point.  That’s the kind of consistency San Jose has been looking for from its big guns, but has yet to find.

Along with Kane, Chicago has three other players with double-digit points already this season including captain Jonathan Toews (6 goals, 7 assists) and wingers Marian Hossa (6 goals, 6 assists) and Patrick Sharp (2 goals, 10 assists).

For San Jose, it was the second time in three games they were shut out as their scoring woes continued.  None of their top scorers have really shown up for a few games now and what was a minor slump has become a major issue.  Luckily for them the defensive and goaltending side of things have been holding steady, but when Antti Niemi only allows one goal twice and loses twice, something’s gotta change.

First and foremost, I would like to see McClellan stick to a few line combos at least for a couple of games to see if guys are in fact gaining some chemistry with each other or not.  While he has done with with ia few lines, for the most part he keeps mixing it up and I don’t know how effective that can be if guys are playing with new linemates every night.

Also, I think Ryane Clowe needs to be dropped a line or two and sent a message rather than keeping him on the first or second line while he continues to not produce.  Granted, he did have his best game a few games ago when paired with Joe Thornton but the fact that he has zero goals this season is what the Sharks cannot have.  We saw what it did for Martin Havlat when he was dropped to the fourth line and had one of his better games in a while.

This will be a tough game for San Jose to win, but with the talent they have on all sides of the ice they can play with anybody.  Hopefully the offense finally wakes up and perhaps they can hand the Blackhawks their first regulation loss of the season.

Tags: Anaheim Ducks Antti Niemi Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews Marian Hossa Martin Havlat Patrick Sharp Pekka Rinne Ryane Clowe San Jose Sharks

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