| Paranoia or cognitive
Are fans wrong for worrying?
|4/17/09 - By Steve Flores -
To say that the San Jose Sharks initial foray into
the 2009 Post-season was disappointing would be the understatement of the year.
Sharks fans all across the Bay Area have been swept over with a wave of
zombie-like depression after one lackluster performance. Local sports radio has
been besieged with calls from local hockey fans venting and expressing their
frustration and disappointment to a degree never seen prior in these parts. The
fact that so many people seem to care does show that the team is growing in
popularity. That is a good thing. The fact that so many are voicing their angst
is a sign that the team is not playing very well and that is not a good thing.
Sharks broadcaster's and several team personnel have both made
statements that amount to the loss not being that big a deal: I beg to
I normally try not to react very quickly to a single
performance. Normally most of the broadcaster's and or players are of this
mindset as well. As I sat here and debated whether or not I should start
tapping the keyboard in regard to this abomination of a game I found good,
clear reason to do so. I decided that my feelings about the Shark's play had
nothing to do with a single game but rather, several games since the All-Star
The Sharks were 29th in goals scored since the All-Star Game.
The team has lived on its defense, goaltending and
special team's since the theoretical half way point of the season. Be sure that
Head Coach Todd McLellan is aware of this glaring stat and has been for quite
awhile. The lack of even-strength scoring is THE Achilles Heal of this team and
the players and coaches have said for months there would be time to fix it.
Well guys and dolls its April - the team was shutout in game number one of the
post-season and the problem is as bad as or worse than it has been since the
break. Throw in the team's utter futility on the multiple power play
opportunities they were awarded and that is how you get a 2-0 loss to the hated
Ducks of Anaheim.
Any fan that is worried may be called paranoid or
quick to judgment by any outsider that has not watched this team all season.
But any true fan of this team knows that it is not and has not been a short
term problem. The team's inability to score has been going on for months and
there has been no sign that it is going to end. So if you want to worry I won't
stop you! The EXPERTS can say all that they want. They can quote this team did
this or that team did that in the past, and this is why you shouldn't worry. I
say that the facts are the facts - this team flat out has a difficult time
The most bizarre burr in the team's offensive
troubles is that they actually had no problem scoring early in the season.
Goals came in bunches and the team was skating like the wind.
Several things have happened. Opposing teams watch video and
have made the necessary adjustments to the Shark's game. Trapping defenses have
seen more of a resurgence this season and team defense becomes tighter as the
season draws to a close and the actual playoffs begin. The Sharks are not
getting to the front of the net. They never seem to be in the slot when
Thornton flips a pass across the crease and their shots are all coming from the
The team is managing fewer and fewer shots from in
close. Are these problems due to the Sharks not willing to put in the effort or
is it simply that the opposing defenses are working to make sure that they
Sharks are not allowed these opportunities. Whatever the reason the Sharks need
to get these things done or the current holder of the President's Trophy will
be out in round one and there will be hell to pay in the off season.
Anaheim played a smart positional defensive scheme against the Sharks in the
opener. They are selective in who they hit and who they attack. They have
method to their madness as drawn up by Head Coach Randy Carlyle. The Ducks have
a league-wide reputation as a 'dirty' team. Many feel that the use of the term
'dirty' isn't fair to the Ducks. A spade is a spade.
The Ducks do play
physical hockey, but they take head shots, throw elbows and push beyond the
limits of the game. This reputation is something they have earned and is
something the Sharks must deal with, Carlyle is a believer in the physical game
but he also believes that certain opposing players also perform better if they
are being hammered. Thus you will notice that the abuse in game one came at the
expense of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and not Joe Thornton or the very invisible
The Ducks have a game plan and Carlyle is on top of
The Sharks and McLellan have big problems to deal
with and not a lot of time to do so. The fans are worried and the fear and
disappointment is not simply because of one poor performance. So feel free to
worry and don't let any expert tell you that you are overreacting to one bad
game. Can the team right the ship? Who knows! Sunday is the biggest game of the
season. On that day we will have another chance to see if the experts know more
than those of that are simply paranoid. And let's hope that those experts
really do know more than we do.
Contact Steve at
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