Another year older
Same characters, results to come
|9/29/13 - By Steve Flores -
Anyone else out there not quite sure what to think
of this years version of the San Jose Sharks? Another year older with a mostly
same cast-o-characters. The solid top two line guys are still there and they
will, no doubt, be competitive. On a pre-season review of the team I don't tend
to look at the franchise and ask myself 'hey, how competitive will the Sharks
be this season?' I look at it and ask if this team - which has chased a Stanley
Cup for many seasons now in vain - has any chance of winning the Cup or not?
The simple answer is no, not really.
I'm not sure why there
would actually be optimism in this regard.
Heresy! Yes I know the mere
thought that anyone would state that the team has no chance tends to put a
stick in the proverbial Shark fan's spokes. But it is the truth.
team has had the same basic nucleus for many seasons. The team is a year older.
Yes it does have a still improving Logan Couture and yes Marc- Edouard Vlasic
is approaching elite shutdown defenseman status. The team has also brought in
Tyler Kennedy and heralded rookie Tomas Hertl looks to have earned a spot on
the squad as well. Hertl actually appears to be more advanced than the bulk of
the Sharks' first year players of the past several seasons.
two guys are not enough.
Have I mentioned that this team is a year
older? Yeah I thought I had. On top of the aging thing we, once again, see
Marty Havlat injured and the one other guy the team acquired at last year's
trade deadline Raffi Torres has an ACL injury that looks like it will have him
missing at least 4 months of the season.
It's an ACL folks it could
mean the entire season. Torres is not everyone's cup of tea so some Shark's
fans will blow off his absence as 'no big deal'. Well folks, nothing could be
further from the truth.
Torres gives the team a different style of
grit and heart. He annoys opponents in general. He actually has some hockey
skills and is an actual difference maker in the way that the team plays. We saw
it down the stretch last season. He was the one player that I thought could
provide a nice and actually different type of spark over the entire season.
His absence will be felt.
The Sharks are more than solid in
goal with Antti Niemi and the defense in front of him is stellar in both
shorthanded and equal strength play.
The Sharks Power play will also
be solid, as it always is. They are as good a face-off team as there is in the
league and the team's coaching staff led by Todd McLellan has managed to
fine-tooth the team so that it is solid in nearly every minor aspect and nuance
of the game. You would be hard-pressed to find any major weakness on this
With all of this highfalutin glory spoken one would
think they are unbeatable. Yet they have no Championship hardware to show for
their efforts. Despite all of the talent - both older and younger the team is
still a team that is always a day late and dollar short of at least one other
NHL franchise on an annual basis.
The Chicago Blackhawk's are younger
and faster. The Los Angeles Kings (yes folks they play in Los Angeles and they
eliminated the Sharks on their way to a Title two seasons ago) have also been
better when it counted than the Sharks.
We could go year-by-year but
you get the gist!
As the valiant Sharks have plodded away with the men
built by GM Doug Wilson and as the core of this team has remained the same -
other clubs have built with youth and free agency to become as good or better
than the South Bay boys. This year is no different.
The team is good
but older and missing pieces that, quite frankly, they really need if they were
to have any chance at all of competing for the cup. Injuries happen with age
and the Sharks are long in the overall proverbial shark tooth. Time will tell,
as they say and time isn't something these Sharks have a lot of.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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