| A matter of
Sharks need to pick it up against tougher
|2/7/10 - By Steve Flores -
Where to begin? Yeah this is yet another column
along a road that has been traversed countless times before. The San Jose
Sharks sit atop the NHL's Western Conference yet the fans and critics are once
again at their throats. The Sharks 4-2 defeat last week at the hands of their
arch-nemesis the Detroit Red Wings has, once again, fueled the fires of the
critically vocal. Once again the Bay Area's hockey franchise bowed to a team
that it knows is an important team to overcome. In fact there are really only
two teams in the league that the fans, critics and players really, truly, gage
themselves upon; the Wings and The Chicago Blackhawks.
Well folks the
Sharks combined record against these two teams this season is 1-3-3. So, in a
nutshell, the 'gut-check' games that the Sharks should gear up for have
resulted in abject failure.
In review of the Red Wings' victory on
Tuesday night Sharks analyst Jamie Baker brought up the word 'will'. Baker used
the term to describe the positive level of the Wings effort over the Sharks.
Baker went on to describe the continual ways that the Sharks find to 'implode'
when they take the ice against Detroit . The Sharks have performed even more
poorly against Chicago - having really only played well in the most recent
contest against the Hawks - and in that contest they dug such a deep hole that
the Hawks eventually found a way to rise up and get the better of the result.
The Sharks seem listless and hopeless in the bulk of these games. Last
season (Marleau injury aside) the team was dominated by the Anaheim Ducks and
in prior years have folded like a tent in each post-season series that they
lost. I also must point out that they were actually favored in all of those
playoff series - they were not the underdogs!
The question of 'heart'
and 'will' pervades this team like a looming ominous shadow.
of the team wait and hope each season that the team can find a way to break
through and meet all of the expectations that have been lauded upon them by
supposed experts, players and fans alike.
Like the Sharks chances or
not the team is laden with big name, high priced talent. GM Doug Wilson has
gone out and brought in pieces that he feels will hopefully put them over the
top. The problem with this logic is that the issue may not lie in the area of
talent but may actually be the far more intangible lack of 'heart' or 'will'.
Intangibles are a difficult thing to gage and even more vague in their
definition. The one factoid that can be pointed out is that when the Sharks
engage a top NHL team or a 'hot' franchise they always seem to fail in the end.
This team definitely has holes on defense. Team
Captain Rob Blake has begun to see critics lambast him in print for his
defensive deficiencies. Constant penalties have resulted from poor positioning,
poor puck control and most frequently the need to clutch and grab because
players are too fast for him to stay with. Blake has been guilty of it since
the start of the season, but only recently has the media decided to place it in
print. It was almost as if a professional courtesy had been handed to him for
his years of excellence in the league. It now appears that this 'pass' has
reached its expiration point.
Injuries to Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard
Vlasic have compelled the Sharks to dig deep into their AHL Coiffures to
replace these important defensive components while they recover. The only
problem with placing blame on these injuries is that these guys have played the
bulk of the games against Detroit and Chicago and still the team has managed to
be not only outplayed but even dominated at times. Two of the games against
Chicago were affronts to NHL hockey. The Sharks were truly embarrassing.
Everyone in the know assumes that Wilson will bring in a defender of
two prior to the trade deadline. I am sure that he will bring in players better
than what currently mans the blue line and that the team will be deeper than
they are currently constructed. The problem is that this still may not be the
best or most needed corrective surgery. A call out to a Heart Surgeon may be
the most apropos form of knife wielding needed. But alas, no X-Ray or MRI is
able to detect problems of 'heart' and or 'will'. It is up to the Sharks to
prove whether or not the now percolating fervor of discontent, critique and
unrest is to be proven wrong or right.
Steve at email@example.com
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