Sunday afternoon they won their ninth straight game, and seventh straight on the road, against the Minnesota Wild (not, as you might guess from the uniforms, the Polar Elf Sniper Brigage). Marleau saved the game with one of the most spectacular defensive plays of the year, batting a fluttering shot that was deflected past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov out of the air as it was heading for an open net in the final seconds of regulation. After a scoreless overtime, Marleau scored the game winner in the shootout. Where you been all this time, Patty?

The improved play of Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo (who has been scoring goals in absolute bunches lately, signifying he's fully recovered from double-hernia surgery) has been one of the primary reasons for the Sharks recent dominance, but the catalyst was the arrival of slick-skating defenseman Brian "Soup" Campbell from Buffalo in exchange for the promising but unseasoned power forward Steve Bernier. Sharks GM Doug Wilson has been looking for an offensive-minded d-man who can lead the breakout and quarterback the power-play for many years now. Campbell is that guy. His spin-o-rama goal to cement the Sharks entertaining win against the Montreal Canadiens last week is going to be in highlight reels for years to come. He's also good defensively, capable of playing the body, and a good mentor for young defenseman like Christian Ehrhoff and Marc-Eduard Vlasic. He'll also be an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the year, so let's hope that Wilson can work on an extension for Campbell. Like a midwestern hot dish, the universal binding ingredient, what brings all the flavors together, for this year's Sharks is Soup.

By our hockey correspondent, Ian