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Offense in-action
No answers for Lemaire
10/22/06 - By Ken Smyth

Saturday night, the San Jose Sharks lost their fourth straight home game against the Minnesota Wild. The French Army's got a better record against the Germans, though that was before they used two referees. Thanks for the surrender towels, HP, but they really weren't needed as the boys in teal fell pretty easily.

Still, the Sharks came through the home stand against Dallas, Detroit and Minnesota at 2-1, with a 6-2 overall record. There's nothing bad about that, unless you just don't look good in overalls. Against Dallas and Detroit the boys took full advantage of their better skating, took the lead and wore the opposition down. Against Minnesota it was a different story as the Wild got the first goal and promptly went into defensive mode and effectively clogged the center zone.

Third line center Wes Walz went from a probable scratch to first star of the game. A healthy Martin Gaborik might have worked to the Sharks advantage as his presence in the Wild line-up opens things up a little. Still, the Sharks' know by now exactly what Minnesota's game plan will be- why should they change?

With the Sharks properly chastened they should properly take it out on Columbus Monday night. Wednesday and Thursday in Detroit and Nashville will be better tests on the road. You can bet, and some of you will, that Hasek will be in the Wings' goal instead of Chris Osgood. Nashville ranks third in the conference in goals scored (28), just behind the Sharks; but they've given up almost as many at 26 against. Looks like a split there, but lets be greedy!

Return of the Un-dead

Analyst Drew Remenda commented during Saturday's CBC Hockey Night/After Hours show on how NHL referees were no longer being as strict in calling the obstruction penalties as they were last season. This was challenged by one of the other talking heads on the show, but the Sharks/Wild game was a clear example of refs letting things go back to the bad old days.

Minnesota players smothered the Sharks' passing game in center ice and the stick snagging was back to pre-lockout levels. Yet referee Ian Walsh would put the whistle halfway to his lips and then take it down again without a call. I realize that the first impulse of good referees is to let the players decide the game, but this was precisely the slow creep of allowable transgression that made the NHL game a slow crawl.

I grew up with younger sisters, so I know slow creeps when I see them hanging around. Drew's right! Like a killer in a bad horror sequel, the trap-and-grab hasn't been quite killed off by the new rules. You suits in Toronto watching??

More-

The Sharks had Detroit down from the very beginning, with three power-play goals in fifteen minutes. This drained the confidence from the Red Wings, who'd gotten pummeled by the Ducks' power play the night before. It also sucked the cheer out of the several hundred Wing-iots who'd slithered into the Tank, nice! The Wings also lost in Edmonton. Good thing Detroit is too busy painting Tiger stripes to notice three straight Red Wings losses against teams they used to dominate.

Who says the DJ's spinning the oldies between periods aren't into what goes on in the game? Against Detroit, we heard Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" (with the "Tramps Like Us" refrain), against Minnesota it was Steppenwolf and "Born to be Wild".

For cheap entertainment between periods at HP Pavilion, go to the ice cream concession behind sections 214/113 and order a chocolate dipped cone. Not meaning to pick on the non-profit groups manning the booth, but can somebody from Dairy Belle get signed on as a consultant? Either that, or televise it as a reality show!


Contact Ken at Kenin210@eudoramail.com



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