| Sharks in the Playoffs? April
Too soft for the playoffs?
4/4/06 - By Kem Smyth
The San Jose Sharks are making
some noise in the Western Conference playoff race, but it sounds like "We're
keeping some cold ones for you in Cabo." Toss away those few points earned from
overtime losses (like the one they salvaged last Saturday) and you see a team
with a 9-8 record since the Olympic break. At this rate, Sharkie will be doing
kid's parties in Los Altos a lot sooner than anybody thought in
March and April hockey used to be kind of ugly, and in spite
of the new rules opening up the ice and all that stuff, that fact stays the
same. It's a grind, and your grinders need to be up to it. When the Sharks are
really clicking they are an absolutely pretty team to watch, but this is not a
In spite of the Joe Thornton trade, maybe because of it,
the Sharks are still a soft team and get bounced around by a physical opponent.
This is not a knock on Joe, it's a knock on the team. They should've realized
by now that they won't score five ESPN-highlight goals every night, somebody
has got to muck it up.
They did themselves good by picking up Ville
Niemenan in what was essentially a trade for Niko Dimitrakos, and by getting a
healthy Scott Parker back into the line-up. But the third and fourth lines
still get dominated at wrong times. Take for example Ian Laperriere, good old
yappy Lappy from the Kings, scoring two goals for the Avalanche against Mark
Smith's line in a game the Sharks eventually won.
The Sharks weren't
that lucky this weekend against the Phoenix Coyotes, and should count
themselves damn lucky to get a point out of four for what amounts to one good
period out of six plus. While they showed inspiration, or is it shame, in
coming back from being behind 3-0 in the third period last Saturday to tie the
game and send it into overtime, there's no particular reason to think they'll
carry that fire forward
The Coyotes took both games by blocking shots,
cycling pucks, and generally outworking the home team. Funny thing is that used
to be the way the Sharks won games against much better teams. Through the
coaching eras of Kevin Constantine and Darryl Sutter the Sharks were a grinder
team, with very little beauty in their springtime pushes to make the playoffs.
Can Ron Wilson's team remember how to play that way?
then again after all this rain, Cabo sounds pretty sweet.
Los Angeles Kings fired coach Andy Murray as his team basically quit. Too bad,
Murray made the best Popeye the Sailor face while grimacing at referees and did
about as well as anyone could with the lineup given him.
Bruins once again proved that the accountability stops one office below the
responsibility in firing General Manager Mike O'Connell doing what Harry Sinden
Referee Chris Rooney- easily confused with Mr. Rooney the
principal in "Ferris Buehler's Day Off"? He should have taken one himself last
Saturday as he seemed to take the Sharks out of the game in the second period
and then try to make it up with penalties against Phoenix in the third. Anybody
in NHL management in Toronto catching all this??
This team is loaded with talented youth, not just
prospects folks but young guys with exceptional skills. Milan Michalek, Steve
Bernier, Christian Ehrhoff, Josh Gorges, Matt Carle to name a few all seem to
have the potential to be above average NHL players.
The Sharks are
currently playing with a pair of top lines that are both entertaining and
exciting. And this next fact should scare every G.M. in the league; not a
single Shark has reached his 30th birthday.
The team released and
opted not to sign several veteran players a season ago. The loss of veteran
leadership has been felt. But these veterans were at the end of their NHL rope
and minimal in overall talent to boot. The team has definitely moved up in the
overall natural ability department with experience being the only missing
ingredient to make this a first class Stanley Cup Soufflé.
when you have some free time go log onto the internet and search for a list of
unrestricted free agent for 2006-2007. The list is even more enticing than the
scroll that was available prior to this current season. And if the whispers
about the league are to be believed the Sharks will be in full hunting mode.
And if the Sharks are hunting then it will be for veterans that can come in and
provide the leadership, experience and intangibles that the young guys
currently simply do not have at this point in this youthful teams present
makeup. If this comes to pass then everyone's complaints and hopes and dreams
will all be answered.
It looks like it may take a season longer than
we had hoped for but in the end it looks like we will have a team of solid and
deep foundation that plays a wide open style that will both entertain and
succeed in the win column.
So irony of irony folks is that the losing
streak may have been the impetus that brought in the key piece to what could be
a hockey work of art when all is said and done. Let's all try to be patient and
take deep breathes as this year's version continues to grow and mature in their
attempt to garner the post-season, but more importantly as they evolve into
perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
Contact Ken at
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