North v. South: Fear Team Teal now
With the NHL back in the Bay Area we have an ongoing need — along with every other sports league here — to hate on the teams in LA.
No matter how irrelevant their teams may get — that’s right, I said it — LA always poses a need for competition. And hockey is no exception.
(And if you’re a Kings fan: Yes, that last cheesy line was meant to push your buttons and make you sneer.)
Team Teal is the hockey force to be reckoned with. And here’s why:
Travel schedule: One thing that the NorCal and SoCal teams have in common is a rigorous travel schedule. The Western Conference teams will be hit harder with rapid turn-arounds and travel than the Eastern teams.
The Sharks, however, started with their first two games on the road — in Alberta, of all places — and swept them. And following their home-opener on Thursday, the SJ kids will have three more games in the comfortable confines of HP Pavilion to work out any kinks (maybe being more dominant on the 5-on-3?) that they see fit.
Home opener: The Home Opener has plagued many a team since the NHL season started back up, The Kings included.
San Jose, on the other hand, dominated the visiting Phoenix Coyotes in their opener on January 24, 5-3.
The win has pushed the Sharks to a 5-0 record. Our SoCal rivals are 2-2. If we’re going to start off a shortened season in any fashion, I’d like to be on the winning end, wouldn’t you?
Hot streak: We already know that the shortened season means less time to make mistakes. It also means that hot streaks have heavier impacts.
And Team Teal’s offense is very much hot right now.
In five games, veteran Patrick Marleau has 13 points — nine goals and four — and team Captain Joe Thornton has racked up 10 assists and three goals. For not playing together since last April, the two have found each other at the end of the ice in every game thus far, and with a consistent schedule, won’t have the “opportunity” to slow down.
This on top of Antti Niemi‘s superior goal-tending, which has helped earn him four wins in 240 minutes of play. Oh, and center Logan Couture finding his offensive groove, with eight points (three goals, five assists.)