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More
Is too much ever really enough?
11/3/08 - 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 season.

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 have responded.

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 the team.

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 request.

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 each game.

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 has resulted.

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.

April 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 stevybo@yahoo.com

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