| Sharks voracious going into
"Kids" starting to
3/22/06 - By Steve
Parents love to see their kids grow up and San Jose Shark fans are
feelin mighty proud of the way the kids on the team are growing right before
their eyes. The streakin Sharks are playing their best hockey of the season at
a time when they need to be doing just that.
Early season hot and cold streaks seem to have subsided and the young core of
the team has not only minimized their errors made but have begun to actually
grow as players tend to grow when they get more ice time.
There was never any doubting the abilities on the roster, the only need was for
more experience and these babies are getting plenty of that.
The three-headed monster of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo
have led the way all season. Thornton is in a battle for the scoring title and
is also on the short list for the Hart trophy as league MVP. The team will have
to make the playoffs for the latter to have a legitimate chance but Big Joe is
truly one of, if not 'THE' best offensive player in the world at this point. He
simply makes everyone around him better. He is a large physical presence that
imposes his will on defenses. We could laud praises on him for the rest of this
article. Suffice it to say he is a savage.
Marleau, the Sharks captain, has been consistent since day one of the season.
He has played with several line mates throughout the season and has handled it
all with aplomb and professionalism. He is the senior Shark in terms of time
served and has been the face of the franchise for the past few years. He is
having his finest season as a pro and is going to come close to a 100 point
There is no coincidence that the Sharks current rise in effort has gone hand in
hand with the development of that much ballyhooed 2d line. Marleau is anchoring
rookie wingers Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier and the results have been awe
Michalek is a player of size, speed and skating ability on par with that of
Marleau. In his rookie season he is showing signs that he could well be an
excellent NHL scorer. He is smooth and willing to take chances with creative
skating and stick work.
Bernier is a physical force. His strength and nose for the goal has opened up
the ice for his two line mates. Spin-a-rama moves, one handed passes, goal
scoring and his mere presence in front of the net is something the Sharks have
sorely been missing all season. Bernier's development has happened right before
our eyes and it has given the Sharks two of the best lines in the league.
Although not heralded as being excellent or even very good for that matter, the
Sharks young defensive core also deserves much kudos for their stepped up level
As noted in my earlier columns the craft of playing defense in the NHL takes
years to perfect. Christian Ehrhoff, Tom Preissing, and Josh Gorges have all
shown vast improvement this season. Ehrhoff has grown in leaps and bounds since
seeing his ice time increase since the Olympic break.
The experience he has been receiving has been maximized by his solid effort and
the fruits of his labor have been most impressive. The power play performances
of Ehrhoff has allowed the Sharks to use Marleau in the more conventional role
more befitting of an elite forward. Ehrhoff, an early season wooping boy of
disgruntled Shark's fans has proven to them that experience is a must before
someone should be blamed for the team's ills.
The team's defense as a whole still suffers breakdowns and has cost them some
very close contests but as the old cliché reads - Rome wasn't built in a
Lastly it must be said that Vesa Toskala has been superb in goal. Toskala has
become the clear number one net minder in the mind of this writer. I would also
be willing to bet that most Sharks fans are feeling far more confident when
Toskala is the one between the pipes when the anthems finish. His 6-0 victory
over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday was per haps the team's finest night in the
net all season.
But we still have 15 games to go and the Sharks are still officially the 10th
team in the conference. However the team has games in hand and is actually on
pace to finish ahead of three teams that are currently ahead of them in the
points standings. The road doesn't let up folks the effort has to be there for
every shift of every game. This is where the youth is sorely tested.
The season of ups and downs is currently in one of its upward spells and it
will need to continue if the Sharks and their fans hope to reach Lord Stanley's
land of post season play. The youngsters have to grow up faster than most, but
the proud parents of the Shark Tank appreciate their efforts, efforts that will
hopefully lead to a shot at that big heavy cup.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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