On the other side of tonight's matchup, we have Derek (The Neutral) from Fear the Fin to answer our three questions. We've always had good fun with FtF and they've got a great crop of people over there.
1. What's been your favorite story of the year about the Sharks?
Far and away, Brent Burns being converted from defense to forward after returning from his second injury-related absence of the season. Frankly, I'm surprised this isn't a story that's getting more play on a league-wide basis. Many (including yours truly) were skeptical of the move when it was first announced and even after Burns lit the lamp in his first game up front (albeit with a blast from the point) most presumed it would be a short-term band-aid rather than a long-term solution. Instead, Burns has shattered any reasonable expectations, potting 6 goals and 14 points in his 14 games as a forward. Beyond the boxcar numbers, Burns' combination of size, speed, reckless abandon and raw offensive ability is a blend I haven't really witnessed at the NHL level since Alexander Ovechkin's peak years. Most importantly, Burns has helped transform an offense that couldn't buy an even-strength goal for large stretches of the past two seasons into a legitimate threat. I think the guy is a much better defenseman than many give him credit for but if the past dozen games have been an accurate reflection of his talent level as a forward, I doubt he'll be skating any more shifts on the blueline this year.
2. How well has the fanbase taken to Raffi Torres since he was acquired at the trade deadline?
There are those who justifiably continue to harbor animosty towards him, those who cheered the move from the start and those who were swayed by his impressive debut against Dallas last Sunday. It's rough, particularly given Torres' specific history with the Sharks having targeted Milan Michalek and Joe Thornton in playoffs past in addition to the myriad other atrocities he's committed on the ice over the years. On the other hand, it's only a ten-game stretch plus whatever postseason action the Sharks have in store this spring that Torres will be a Shark for; the probability he'll throw an egregious noggin-targeting hit is obviously slimmer. He's also a genuinely useful player when he focuses on actually playing hockey. Shipping off Douglas Murray and Michal Handzus at the trade deadline were brilliant moves since both players, in addition to being underperforming veterans on expiring contracts who weren't in the Sharks' future plans, hurt the team more than helped them. The same can't be said for Ryane Clowe despite his zero goals at the time of his trade to New York. What Torres does is effectively replace Clowe's even-strength offense while introducing a dimension of speed that Clowe doesn't provide. It's difficult to stomach and I still wish the guy the worst but even I'll, begrudgingly, admit he serves a purpose here.
3. Could Wolverine's claws cut through Captain America's shield?
Wolverine is one of my least favorite X-Men but I'd still love to be able to answer this question in the affirmative just because Captain America has to be one of Marvel's shittiest superheroes ever. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that shield is made out of some sort of made-up indestructible metal that Wolverine's claws can't penetrate. What Wolverine might be able to do is steal Bishop's time-traveling device and tear the living shit out of crippled, sickly FDR before he presents the shield to Captain America. I'm guessing the morbid scene of Wolverine standing over the bloodied carcass of one of the most beloved presidents in American history is why no one pays me to write cartoons, even moreso than my lack of artistic talent. This went off the rails pretty quickly.
[ed note: It's so rare to find somebody else who doesn't like Wolverine.]