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Traffic accidents of hockey
Shootout is shooting down the Sharks' playoff hopes
1/4/06 - By Paul Krill

Let's see a show of hands: Who doesn't pause to observe the remnants of a traffic accident on the highway? Anybody? Didn't think so. The NHL this year has added a new feature to the game that to me is like gawking at a traffic accident: you know it's not really in good taste, but you can't help but watch anyway.

What I'm referring to, of course, is the shootout. It showcases only a minimal amount of the skills required to play in the league, but it is unfortunately becoming a critical part of the game. Just a single goalie and a single shooter. Who needs teamwork when fans will pay to see this? Maybe next season, the league can add a duke out - each team sends its goon to center ice and whoever hits the ice first, his team loses the game. After all, who doesn't like to watch a hockey fight?

Me, I hated the shootout before the season and hate it even more now. I agreed with one hockey insider who asked how much fans will like the shootout when the home team starts losing them.

Well, our Sharks have been on the losing end of these spectacles most of the time. The shootout may be the deciding factor in Shark fans and players sitting home during the playoffs instead of heading to the arena.

But yes, I can't help but watch the shootout, either. Still, I think the game should be a team endeavor and not decided by this sideshow.

What exactly was wrong with games ending in a tie, anyway?

…Penalty Shots:

A proposal mentioned in The Hockey News would resume having all teams play each other every season. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this proposal becomes reality, unless you really don't care to see any of the marquee teams and players from the Eastern Conference.

…The ice at the Sharks' arena has long been criticized as unsatisfactory. But during the season ticket holder skate last week, I thought the ice was fine. I'm certainly no expert on ice quality, but I know what slush is and I didn't find the ice to be slush at all. FWIW, a few laps around the arena ice made me wonder how players can skate several hours a night for 90 nights a year and still have functioning ankles.

Ouch…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's looking more and more like the Sharks will not make the playoffs this season. They currently are ranked 12th in the conference and have been unable to gain on anyone since the Joe Thornton trade. If the Sharks do miss the playoffs, a minimum of nearly three years must pass between NHL playoff games in San Jose (May 2004 to April 2007, presuming the team can qualify next season.). Kind of sad, isn't it?

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