| What You See is What You
No Short Term Changes for Sharks - Will it
3/14/04 - by Ken Smyth
other teams do the serious bulking up with questionable roster supplements, the
Sharks will go for some organic fiber and some chocolate milk. That's the
message that General Manager Doug Wilson sent out with the Sharks' (near lack
of) activity at the NHL trade deadline. Wasn't Curtis Brown a producer on a
Thelonius Monk album some time back?
Brown is a decent hockey player,
he's certainly not afraid to throw a check in the offensive zone, but he lacks
the speed that Marco Sturm provided and that will cost the Sharks of one of
their biggest advantages over the tail end of this season. Earlier a team
facing the Sharks needed to defend against pairs of fast forwards on two
different lines: Sturm and Patrick Marleau on one line, Nils Ekman and
Alexander Korolyuk on another.
It's conceivable that the opposing
coach could cover one pair or the other with a checking line, but it was very
hard to cover both effectively. The match-ups are much simpler now. This may
not make a huge difference in the grab and pull hockey that constitutes the
Stanley Cup playoffs, but it could make the difference in the Sharks winning
the division ahead of a surging Dallas team.
Brad Boyes (Jeff Jillson,
too) is with his third organization in about a year. This leaves the Owen Nolan
trade one-year-later as Brown, Alyn McCauley, and winger Steve Bernier;
obtained with the extra first-round pick after a trade-up. Bernier, who is
still in juniors, is doing well and could be a reason the Sharks' didn't mind
shuffling Boyes. Boyes is probably tired of the "top prospect" title in front
of his name. Besides that, people start to wonder about a first-round pick
getting traded that many times in a short while, remember Jayson More? At least
Boston is closer to home.
It's clear now that Doug Wilson is satisfied that this
team can go a few rounds into the playoffs without more help, and isn't willing
to jeopardize chemistry, increase payroll, or disturb long term development
plans for a quick fix now. Whether this long-term confidence will be justified
in the next six to eight weeks is anybody's guess, but there will be a lot of
finger pointing should the Sharks be a first round casualty in the 2004 Stanley
Meanwhile on the ice, the Sharks are 3-3 over the last
six games. You can point the finger at injuries to key players (Mike Ricci,
Kyle McLaren) or going up against some very motivated upper level opponents
(Dallas, Colorado, Vancouver), but what few people want to think about is
inconsistent play on the part of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Nabby's been
letting in some soft goals over the last two weeks, going back to the third
period of the Pittsburgh game.
Until then, his play was one of the
Sharks' strengths this season. Last night, against the Islanders, the Sharks
looked to be picking the Isles (and goaltender Rick DiPietro) apart with a 4-1
lead in the second period. Cliff Ronning put two past Nabokov in slightly over
a minute and a half; the second on a 2-on-1 that Nabokov grossly misplayed.
Nabby proceeded to give more unwarranted excitement with on several easy shots
that bounced off him. He recovered later in the second period with some great
saves; but by then the game was 4-3 and a nail-biter.
were hungry after five games winless and came out with a lot more physical
presence (read as banging people around) in the third period. Will Vesa Toskala
get the start on Saturday?
Contact Ken at Kenin210@eudoramail.com
|What did you think of
this article? Post your comments on the