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New style looks good
McLellan's impact already being felt
10/10/08 - By Steve Flores

San Jose 4 Anaheim 1! The score pretty much says it all folks. The 2008-09 Sharks' season got under way Thursday night and oh what a show it was. Although we are only one game into the Todd McLellan era it is pretty apparent that the style of game is going to be a lot different in the Tank this season.

Gone is the more defensive style employed under former head man Ron Wilson.

Since his hiring McLellan has talked about bringing the defensemen more into the offensive game. He has spoken of having players going to the net more often and, in essence, that the Sharks would be taking more shots than in the past.

If last night's opener is typical of the game the team will be playing this season then Shark's fans are in for a treat.

Not only are the shots coming from the point, not only were guys going to the net, but they were also a team in constant motion. That is to say that the Sharks were constantly skating and moving. Moments of a sedentary set-up offense were the exception rather than the rule: The power play was the best most vivid example.

When on the man advantage no one was standing still watching Joe Thornton set up the play. Dan Boyle is moving like he's on the autobahn and is in control of the flow. While he is sliding and circling all of the others are in continual motion and it was, dare I say, BEAUTIFUL!?!!

The Sharks are no longer standing around and working for 'THEE SHOT'.

In the past once that shot was taken all of the skaters on the ice were ready to respond to a transition to defense.

We watched this for years.

The Sharks team defense has been great over the past few seasons, but the offensive side of things always seemed to lag because of the emphasis on not letting goals get past Evgeni Nabokov.

I am never going to knock Ron Wilson as a coach. The man is solid. He's a pro and he coaches teams to very successful records. For many years I have advocated that the team open it up, at least a little bit, on offense.

Wilson doesn't coach that style of game.

Wilson didn't seem to think that the team had what it takes on offense to play a more open style without adversely affecting the defensive portion of the team's play; that is to say that RW felt that if the team spent too much time on offense that the D would suffer and success would be impossible. I think that this philosophy is correct if it is implemented on a team that lacks offensive capability.

The Sharks appear to have a fair amount of athleticism and offensive skill on their present roster and a defensive style placed upon them does not play to their strengths.

RW's current team in Toronto does not have nearly the offensive makeup that the Sharks have and his style placed upon that roster makes a world of sense. In San Jose it seems to have been misplaced for the long run.

Wilson either truly didn't understand the kind of roster that he had or he felt that many of the youngsters weren't ready to play that style. McLellan is, obviously, not of the same mindset. The team opened up sluggish (as teams will do in an opener) and by the middle of the second period we all knew what 'Todd McLellan hockey' was all about.

As I mentioned it is only one game but if that one game is a portend of things to come then let me tell you Mr. McLellan may well be this teams MVP this season.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com


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