Some points to be made about the
1/5/10 - By Paul Krill
With the Sharks halfway there to the real season - the playoffs - I
thought I'd offer some observations about how things have gone - so far - in
the regular season.
* When the Sharks made Thomas Greiss their backup
goalie for this season, I was a bit nervous. I didn't recall him having all
that much success when he was in San Jose before and Brian Boucher, last year's
backup, was mostly superb. But Greiss has been great as a backup and at an
economical salary cap hit of only $550,000, according to The Hockey News. His
outstanding performance on New Year's Eve, for instance, when he kept the
Coyotes off the scoreboard in the first and third periods and then again in his
first-ever NHL shootout, deserves a standing ovation.
* Speaking of
shootouts, which I still don't like all that much, coach Todd McLellan's
strategy of letting the other team go first, like he did in the December 28
game against Phoenix, clearly looks like the right move. It puts the pressure
on the opposing team and gives the home team last-ups, like in baseball. It was
a different story in the New Year's Eve game, when the Coyotes went first at
home. Fans in Phoenix (OK, Glendale, Ariz.) had to sweat watching the Sharks
get the final chance to win several times before Ryane Clowe finished the job
and sent the crowd home disappointed.
* Also on the subject of
goaltenders, Evgeni Nabokov has been stellar as the starter. Following last
season's playoff debacle, Dan Boyle at the State of the Sharks event said the
goaltending needed to get better and it most certainly has.
recent trend in which the Sharks seem to be spending most of the night in their
own end has let up a bit lately. Let's hope things keep moving in the Sharks'
direction on this issue.
* Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Dany
Heatley trade has been Patrick Marleau. Opposing teams must have their hands
full keeping an eye on Heatley, thus freeing up the always-talented Marleau to
have perhaps his best season ever. Who'd have thought Marleau would have more
goals than Heatley at this point?
* And speaking of Marleau, I hope
I'm not the only one sick to death of sports writers talking about Marleau
being "stripped of the C" as if it was some sort of almighty shame, like he was
drummed out of the corps or something. I don't think the captaincy is really
all that big a deal. Isn't the captain mostly responsible just for arguing bad
calls with the officials and taking the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary
Bettman, for the lucky captain whose team wins the Big Trophy?
seen several of these 1,000-game celebrations at The Tank, honoring players who
played a good deal of their games for other teams. Next season, Marleau can
become the first player to play all 1,000 of his games as a Shark. Let's hope
team management ensures that this happens.
* While we can take pride in the number of Sharks
selected to play in the Olympics - seven as of this writing with Joe Pavelski
likely to make it eight - I am concerned that the Olympics might put a crimp in
the Sharks' chances to win the Stanley Cup. We have to keep our fingers crossed
that no Shark gets injured in the Vancouver tournament, particularly when
playing against another Shark.
* This one is a little bit off topic
but allow me to digress. With San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco fighting
about where the A's might play baseball for the next 40 years, we have to
wonder how much we Sharks fans have played an inadvertent role in this by
selling out the Shark Tank year after year and crowning San Jose as fabulous
market for major-league sports. We're not a San Francisco suburb anymore and
the Sharks and Sharks fans have done more to prove that than anyone.
Well, that's about it. It seems like just yesterday that the Sharks were
embarrassingly eliminated from last year's playoffs but it's now the halfway
point of the season after that disappointment. Onward to April, May and June,
where we can hope for a much better fate for the Sharks.
Paul at at email@example.com
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