Neil Young was in the audience, and the Sharks were rockin' in the free world. Their 3-1 win over Colorado last night at The Tank leaves them with with 106 points, best in the NHL with three weeks left until the playoffs.
The Sharks didn't burn out or fade away. Evgeni Nabokov continued to be otherworldy, notching 31 saves while Milan Michalek had a goal and an assist. And just to keep fans happy, Jonathan Cheechoo beat the living daylights out of Lawrence Nycholat. Thanks for not trading Cheechoo, Todd McLellan!
Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? They've already clinched. They're after the President's Trophy, the prize given to the NHL team with the best record. And they don't even necessarily want the trophy -- they'd prefer something more like a Cup -- but the trophy would guarantee them home ice throughout the playoffs. And for a team that has lost only three games all season long at The Tank, home playoff ice would be an awfully comforting thing to have.
Home ice is no guarantee that the Sharks won't trip up in the second round of the playoffs again. But they'd certainly rather be -- to inaccurately paraphrase Neil Young -- out of the black and into the blue. And that blue is the deep Pacific teal of HP Pavilion.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer with a certain Neil Young song stuck in his head.