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Dog days are here
Maybe skid is happening at the right time
3/8/09 - By Steve Flores

Oh, the dog days of the season are definitely here folks! The San Jose Sharks are a strugglin and the faithful and Bay Area media are beginning to question the intestinal fortitude of said franchise. The team has dropped two in a row at home and has only scored more than two goals once in their last six games.

Remember that old Ray Charles line "if it wasn't for bad luck there would be no luck at all"? Thursday night's debacle was strange in that the team actually was playing with more energy than they have in the past couple of weeks - yet, somehow they found a way to lose when a seemingly harmless clearing pass from center ice by Minnesota Wild Defenseman Marek Zidlicky bounced right through the legs of Shark's keeper Brian Boucher.

Early on in the season the team would find ways to win. That has definitely not been the case of late.

Here is a sobering factoid: The Sharks are 6-10 in their last 16 games. This stat includes OT and Shootout losses, but it nonetheless says the team has been subpar since the end of January. Now with this said it must be pointed out that the Sharks have been racked with injuries. Luckily for the boys they have not had any major tweaks to any of their top line players, but the third and fourth lines guys are definitely keeping the trainers busy.

Sharks G.M. Doug Wilson has, as everyone knows, made a deal to bring in forward Travis Moen and defenseman Kent Huskins from Anaheim . Both are former Stanley Cup winners and both bring a competitive toughness and a level of depth that the team will need for the rest of the run.

According to a published report Huskins may still be out for a matter of 'weeks' rather than the earlier reported scenario of 'days'. The Sharks recent woes have the faithful a bit on edge and that is an understandable feeling for those that have followed this team throughout its history. The Sharks have never lived up to recent media and fan expectation. The team has been picked as a favorite to win the whole enchilada for the past few seasons only to bow out in the second round nearly every year.

This season's incarnation (under new Head man Todd McLellan) came out of the box in a fast-paced dominant manner and looked unstoppable. But alas, the NHL season is long and arduous and the twists and turns of the 82 game schedule can be quite humbling. The Sharks are not humbled in the sense that they are doomed but they are bruised and banged up physically. The main fear is that they are not mentally damaged as well.

The mental side of the game is always where this team has found a way to fail. Most people in the game know that the Sharks have enough physical skills to play with anyone - just ask the Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks biggest challenge (once they are healthy) will be to clear the hurdle that begs the question whether they truly believe in themselves. They truly are their own worst enemy - Well that and the zone-trap (but I digress). This team is injured, fatigued and not playing as well as they were in the first half of the season. They have 19 regular season games left to get healthy - both physically and mentally. All teams face adversity and believe me the team's recent struggles does not mean that they are not good enough to win it all. Just last season the Wings struggled in February with a 4-8-2 record for that month. As we all know that team had a fair degree of post-season success.

There has been a lot of talk that the Sharks should truly work to secure the top spot in the league and thus earn home ice for the playoffs, but that is not the end all be all. If it makes you feel any better the Wings have finished in the top spot and not won the cup and conversely have not finished in the top position and have managed to win it all.

In a nutshell, yeah the team is struggling. But the optimist would say "Hey, at least its prior to the playoffs where they traditionally pull their disappearing act!"

Maybe, just maybe this is a good thing and a good time for the boys to get the injuries and struggles out of their system. Try to keep in mind folks that the 'real season' begins in April and this team has shown the ability to rise up and play their best in big games (Detroit/Boston). But, just in case it's ok if you watch and keep your fingers crossed just in case.


Contact Steve at stevybo@yahoo.com


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