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It's a long season folks
What's not to like
1/4/09 - By Steve Flores

With the NHL season almost at half-mast I thought it might be a good time to stop and reflect upon the efforts of the Sharks. I mean c'mon folks what could I possibly write that hasn't already been written? They have the best start in NHL history for this amount of games or that amount of games. They have had dominant performances. They have taken and amazing volume of shots on goal. They exhibit exciting fast-paced play on the ice.

In essence the Sharks came out of the gun like a bullet from Inspector Harry Callahan's .44 Magnum and feel bad for the victims on the other end of that aim.

The team has lost only 4 games in regulation, has 28 wins and has been the top team in the league since day one and that about sums it up in the proverbial nutshell.

The last couple weeks the team has finally started to hit a bit of a lull. Injuries have beset them a bit and teams are now gunning for them and using them as a barometer for their own standing in the league.

The boys are now being out shot on many nights, are not scoring as many goals, are not crashing the net as often and have not had that general 'flow' to their skating that was their trademark throughout the early games.

Almost half way through the season many teams are in need of points more than others (if they are to make a playoff run) and a good effort against the Sharks could be seen as a good place to spring a struggling team into new life. The Sharks are seeing great goaltending and more cohesive efforts thrown against them as the season has gone on.

The world is tough and the NHL mirrors that adage. No rest for the weary folks. As Benjamin Franklin once said "No man ever was glorious, who was not laborious." The team must find ways to continue working hard and smart.

The Sharks have had and will continue to have player injuries. Hopefully they will not be major injuries or injuries to major contributors. At times they have looked haggard and weary. The NHL season is long and all teams go through the rigors - although West Coast teams are hampered by more trips out of their time zones. At times they have looked out of sorts or are out of position.

These are all aspects of a season and a difficult game to play at such a high level. To expect the team to play at a pace that would have garnered them 140 plus points at season's end is ridiculous to say the least and an expectation that they should not be held accountable for - please forgive me for ending that sentence with a preposition.

The team has won many games. They have won many with an exclamation mark and others in which they were clearly outplayed. The mark of a good team is being able to win when not at their best. The Sharks have won several games this season in this manner. Their recent 'skid' (if you will) is normal for a group of pros. The season is still a ways from April, May & June and Sharks fans will have to endure the fans of other teams making a wide array of 'so what' and 'wait till the playoff' jokes at their expense.

After all the team does have a history of failing when it counts most. This team however, has seemed different in that regard all season. Talented, tough, aggressive, defensive, smart (most of the time) and deep - they are veteran (albeit young) and composed.

So don't let this recent bout of 'lesser play' bother you folks and just put up with the naysayers. As Sharks fans you have little choice but to deal with it. But rest assured the team's level of play will pick up and they should go into the post-season as one of the three favorites for Lord Stanley's Cup. Of course the competition is stiff and the playoffs are not easy but I believe that these Sharks have learned lessons from past failures and me thinks that their ride is very much on track.

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