| Show's on
and it's as familiar as ever
By Ken Smyth
No matter what the schedule said, the real opening
of the Sharks season is this week against Dallas, Detroit and Minnesota.
Consider the Blues and Islanders a dress rehearsal, and the Canadian road trip
a final tune up with a live audience. Dallas, and Detroit won their respective
divisions last season, Minnesota could be one this season, and the three were a
combined 13-1-0-1 as of Tuesday. The 2-0 shutout of the Stars on Tuesday was a
slick way to send a message that the Sharks will be for real this season.
Look at the Dallas Stars and some things never seem to change. There's Segei
Zubov back on defense, Mike Modano flying up the wing, Jere Lehtinen on the
wing. But, who, (Tuesday it was "where") is the shooter on Modano's line
instead of Brett Hull; and is that really Eric Lindros in a Dallas suit??
Last year's scoring leader Jason Arnott is now a Nashville Predator thanks to
free agency and a bad playoff. The Dallas defense outside of Zubov is a bunch
they've picked up here and there. Darryl Sydor is back; while reuniting him
with Zubov seems a good move, I didn't see them together that much Tuesday.
On a more serious level, the Stars' aren't living off the fast break out of
their zone. They no longer have the forwards on three lines to pull it off.
Instead of facing the point d-men at the blueline like they used to, the
wingers hang down on the top of the face-off circles and backcheck.
This foregoes the odd-man breaks that marked earlier Dallas teams but it does a
better job breaking up the opponent's passes. With stick grabbing and
cross-checking now certain penalties, the Stars sacrificed some of the offense
for defense. It's a good adaptation for the "new" NHL.
Whether it works all season or not remains to be seen. In spite of some youth
up front, this team is old: think San Francisco Giants on skates, though with
better relief pitching. Letting Arnott go freed up some money. Even after
signing Brendan Morrow there's cap space to add bodies as the season wears on.
Still an old team is wide open for a February or March collapse, think LA
Kings, as the Pacific Division travel schedule starts to wear on them. Wear on.
Giants vs Stars- Yes, the comparison continues. Barry Bonds vs. Lindros. Barry
has 734 home runs, Eric has a real prescription for his steroids. Plus,
compared to Eric, Barry is a team guy who talks to reporters. Eric's been
examined, Barry's been cross-examined
Funny-Just three years ago both Bay Area football teams were looking for new
coaches, now it's both baseball teams. What are the odds? (That's a rhetorical
question, Mrs. Gretzky). Can the Giants and A's pick better than the 49ers and
Raiders? Is it possible to do worse?
Outside of the Florida/FIU game, best hockey fight in a while was Chris Neil of
Ottawa vs Aaron Downey of Montreal at the end of the first period last
Saturday. The linesmen pulled back and let them have a good go at it for the
Hockey Night broadcast, must have thought the telecast wasn't going south.
Also, the CNBC game analyst was the very much missed Drew Remenda. Nothing
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