Maybe Canadian TV will inspire
12/6/08 - By Ken Smyth
seasons past when we were all wondering just what moves the San Jose Sharks
would make to keep from dropping out of the playoffs? This year finds the
Sharks doing great, and so far all the questions are answered.
Sharks are past their first big injury (Evgeni Nabokov) and the top two lines
are productive to the point that there is little chatter about Jonathan
Cheechoo being hurt or Milan Michalek being missing-in-action. Compare that to
the Patrick Marleau discussions about a year ago, when it was all about who
he'd be traded for, not if or when. Marleau is off to a career year, as they
say in baseball. Funny how simple it seems to tailor the play to the talents of
the best players.
One of the things you notice sitting in cheap seats
is that the Sharks' forwards no longer immediately clear the offensive zone
once the other defense gets the puck- they can forecheck deep and grab
turnovers. This is an immediate benefit of the improved defense, both personnel
Ron Wilson had the defensemen mostly staying in their
lanes and dropping back towards their own blueline with the forwards falling
back into center ice; Todd McLellan's Sharks drop one d'man back and have one
d'man plus a forward go at the puck carrier before he crosses his own blue
line. The Sharks' top forwards are fast enough to get back on defense if the
opponent is delayed a stride and quick enough to go back on offense if he
coughs up the puck at his own blue line.
Finally ending the young
defenseman auditions of the past seasons meant that Rob Davison, and Matt Carle
went and Christian Ehrhoff, Douglas Murray and Marc-Edouard Vlasic stayed.
(Maybe stayed is the wrong word for Ehrhoff. He's about 50% quicker with his
passes with a made a big improvement in his overall play.) The trades for
veterans Brad Lukowich, and Dan Boyle, and signing Rob Blake are all paying
Let's see this Sharks' team win a Stanley Cup or three before we
start crowning them as a dynasty. Let's see them win a Conference Final. Not to
be negative, but most of the season is still ahead. Want some snarky questions?
You need to look elsewhere in the NHL.
What's eating the Dallas Stars,
and would it like a helping of Anaheim Duck for dessert?
Is the Tampa
Bay Lightning management totally clueless and if so, just how much will they
offer to Mats Sundin?
Did Joel Quennville take the Chicago Blackhawks'
coaching job because it was a real opportunity or because the very talented,
very undisciplined Hawks are a good excuse to drink heavily?
Gretzky is getting better as a coach? Last Saturday he put a goalie on the
bench after two shots, as a player it usually took him four.
a worse pick-up line? "Can I sit here a minute, I think I going to throw up!"
or "Can I buy you a drink? I'm Sean Avery." (Seriously- The Avery sideshow is a
great geek act but it's a distraction- take a look at the Stars' injured list
and you see the names Jere Lehtinen, Brendan Morrow, Sergei Zubov and Steve
Ron Wilson gives the Leafs a day off from practice after they
gave up five goals to the Sharks. Did the team need a rest or did Ron just have
a good tee time at Mountain Shadows or Raven?? (Next night the Leafs give up
six to the Phoenix Coyotes- new GM Brian Burke will be busy in January)
Contact Ken at at Kenin210@eudoramail.com
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