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Benchmark indicates more work still required
12/24/09 - By Steve Flores -

Go ahead and admit it, you are worried! It's ok to admit it. Really, it is! This year's version of the San Jose Sharks seems like it's still not going to be good enough to hoist Lord Stanley's cup aloft. I know it's only half way through the season and I know that changes made hereafter may be able to alter the future, but boy oh boy do the Chicago Blackhawks look hungrier, faster, more skillful and, YES, simply better than the boys in teal.

The two sides have met three times this season and San Jose is down 1-2 in the series. The problem is that it should be 0-3 as the Hawks dominated every facet of the third game this past Tuesday while out-shooting the Sharks 47-14. Anyone who didn't think it was plain ole dominance was clearly neither watching this game nor has any clue about the game itself.

The Hawks were aggressive, smart, fast, physical and, well, beautiful! The only thing the Hawks lacked was luck - well luck and the fact that Evgeni Nabokov was beyond stellar between the pipes.

The Sharks had very few offensive chances and made good by virtue of simply having supreme talent on the roster. Quality plays by Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton and Jason Demers resulted in three goals. Those three plays along with great penalty killing and goaltending preserved a victory that was criminal in its acquisition.

If you are a numbers hound here are a few for you. The Hawks have outscored the Sharks 13-8 in the season series thus far. They have outshot San Jose 111-64.

Yes, 111-64!

The first contest was a 4-3 overtime loss just 41 seconds into the extra stanza. The Hawks caught the Sharks with 6.6 in regulation and were energized as the OT began. They came out of the faceoff flying and aggressive. Why more teams don't employ a similar level of effort in the 4 on 4 is beyond me. The Sharks were surprised and D-man Brent Seabrook scored quickly to shock the hometown team.

The 7-2 shellacking last month was awful. The Sharks gave up three shorthanded tallies and to say that the overall tone of the game was grim (from the Sharks perspective) would not be enough to adequately describe the carnage that occurred in the Tank that evening.

The third match up was played in Chicago and the Sharks were on the second of back to backs. They arrived in Chicago at 2:30 AM. But don't let this excuse them. They had only played 2 games in the prior 9 days and are world class athletes. In almost all ways the third game was the most dominant by the Hawks. Sometimes numbers are deceiving but not in this case. The 47-14 shooting advantage was truly indicative of the games pace. Teams lose games where they outplay the opponent. This was the case Tuesday.

Some people will say 'a win is a win is a win' and they would be correct. However, in a 7 game series anomalies will not play out. Skill and execution will bear out for the better team and unless the Sharks figure out something drastic or unless changes are made in personnel they seem destined to come up short yet again.

Things do have a tendency to change in the post season. But, let's be honest the Sharks have never been one to find a way past those barriers when the chips are down in May and June.

As it stands right now the Blackhawks are the class of the NHL and the Sharks of San Jose have a lot of work to do if they plan on actually competing with them when it really matters.

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