Is too much ever really enough?
- By Steve Flores
The 2008-09 version of the San Jose Sharks has
been, to this point, almost too good to be true. The team is currently 9-2 and
atop the Western Conference's Pacific Division. They have dominated last years
Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings and runners up the Pittsburgh Penguins
in back-to-back wins.
The team is now playing in 'The Todd McLellan
System' and has flourished.
McLellan's style of play (well chronicled
here) is a far more exciting, opponent agitating, offensive, motion-oriented
offense that the fans in the Tank have never seen from their home club.
Only eleven games into the season the team seems to have mastered the
offensive side of the game and the past three contests (Tampa, Detroit &
Pittsburgh) have easily been there best defensive showing thus far in the early
The team is scoring goals, skating like the wind, playing
physical, setting up in front of the net and is in a flow that is not only
effective but exciting.
McLellan has opened up the game and the Sharks
Patrick Marleau has been as good as anyone and is
truly leading the way on the ice. Second year winger Devin Setoguchi has been
superb. Dan Boyle brings a completely different style and professionalism to
Christian, Ehrhoff looks like a completely different player.
Milan Michalek has been solid at both ends of the ice and Joe Pavelski looks
more and more like a true NHL 2nd line center. Ryan Clowe seems to have found
his niche and looks to be getting more and more comfortable and effective in
his assigned role. He is becoming a force in front of the net and that my
friends has been sorely lacking in teal across the years.
I am not
going to mention every single member of the roster but a special not must be
made regarding Joe Thornton. Of all of the team's roster players Thornton has
had to change his game more than any other. He no longer can set up comfortably
in his corner and slow the pace down to a crawl and zip a pass to an open
winger. Thornton (hampered with a groin injury) has had to change his game at
the request of the coaching staff and he has been a pro in his response to that
He is charging the net more, his face off win total is
the highest on the team (he won 12 of 13 against the Penguins - facing Sidney
Crosby the bulk of the night), and he is learning to make those patented passes
while he and his teammates are in perpetual motion. He has gotten better with
It was apparent early on that the Sharks were going to be
pretty good on the O-side of the game; the defense however was spotty at best
through the first 8 games. The team had moments of good team defense in several
games but they never seemed to get both sides of the game together in any one
night. After a couple of poor defensive nights (which did result in victories
on a home and home against the Philadelphia Flyers) the team hit rock bottom
against Florida in a game that the deservedly lost 4-3. That game disappointed
the players and the coaching staff so much so that a new importance and effort
A Brian Boucher shutout against Tampa, allowing a mere
11 shots (franchise record) to the Penguins and a truly dominant performance
against the Wings has seen the team finally begin to put together solid efforts
on both ends within the same game. We are only eleven games in and it is a long
road to the cup, but thus far the sharks have adapted pretty well to McLellan's
blue print and they seem to be getting better at it every day.
is a long way off. The Sharks have been a great regular season club for several
years now, but somehow they manage to slip off of the accelerator come playoff
time. If early season habits become embedded norm then I am pretty sure that
McLellan and staff will be able to finally get this team to actually show how
truly talented a TEAM they should and can be.
I am not sure what
excess is in sport. I am not sure of that which fans can expect or demand of
its teams. I do know that these Sharks seem to be the best group yet and that
McLellan may well be the guy to lead them to the land of Lord Stanley which
would be enough for me and for you also I'm guessing.
Contact Steve at email@example.com
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