Sharks at midseason: half good, half bad
The Sharks will cram 29 games into the final 57 dates, starting with Saturday's visit by Nashville. Joe Thornton not only has the numbers - 16 assists along with his four goals, winning 54 percent of his draws and a plus-5 defensively - but the team's top-line center also brings the same hard-nosed determination and leadership whether things are going well or poorly. While the team would like to see more in terms of hits - he's credited with just 10 - his 34 blocked shots stand out, and he's a plus-2, which says something since he's often paired against the opposition's top line. Six of Patrick Marleau's team-high 12 goals have come on the power play along with four assists. No goals, six assists, a team-high 68 penalty minutes already (had 97 in 76 games last year) and coming off a two-game suspension suggests there's more wrong below the surface. Joe Pavelski just keeps chugging along, producing points, playing well in all situations and providing leadership. Bad practiceIt's unfortunate that the new collective bargaining agreement didn't abolish the idea of signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, as Calgary did on Thursday with Colorado holdout forward Ryan O'Reilly. If the practice were stopped, inflated salaries wouldn't get doled out, and the player in question wouldn't have to ride an emotional roller coaster. Imagine the awkward nature of O'Reilly now having to slip back into the Avs' locker room after feeling as though he was about to become a member of the Flames. Slap shotsThe latest realignment proposal, targeted for next season - and it's no slam dunk the players are going to OK it - won't make much difference for the Sharks in terms of cutting down travel, except by adding more teams to their division. Viktor Fasth, Ducks, and Damien Brunner, Red Wings