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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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