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Weekend Ramblings
Thought son Carlyle, 60-pointers and low expectations
4/3/11 - By Mike Lee -

Twenty-four hours after the Sharks impressive comeback win over the Ducks, I thought I'd extend some thoughts about the post-game meltdown by Anaheim's head coach Randy Carlyle, but before I got a chance to, he was ripping into NHL officiating after his club dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars. Carlyle was miffed because two would-be game tying goals were negated.

You have to chuckle at the turn of events that Carlyle has endured this weekend. No, not because he lost two games to division rivals on consecutive nights, but rather because of his behavior on the ice…literally.

After Saturday night's loss to the Sharks, Carlyle extended a digit in the direction of someone on the ice. At whom, it's not exactly clear. It might have been at the on-ice officiating crew, at Douglas Murray for his hit on Lubomir Visnovsky, or at Marc-Edouard Vlasic for whatever reason.

Cameras also caught Carlyle mouthing a few expletives that only Bruce Boudreau may want to borrow the next time he agrees to let HBO cameras follow him around. Certainly not language you'd want your mother coming out of your mouth.

Now, I'm no Pollyanna, and can appreciate a heat-of-the-moment type of reaction, especially as the end of the season quickly approaches. Professional athletes (and their coaches) are extremely competitive, and want to win.

It's just that Carlyle doesn't exactly exude professionalism. He wears his heart on his sleeve and can easily get testy, but it's his teams M.O. that tends to draw the ire of his foes. The Ducks have three of the most talented hockey players in the NHL, but beyond that, there isn't much.

So they try to get their opponents to abandon game plans by getting under your skin. Corey Perry scored his league leading 47th goal on Sunday night, but ask any casual fan outside of Southern California who leads the league in goal scoring and you'd probably get lots of answers that don't include Perry.

That's because his dirty style of play is the last thing you'd expect from a pure goal scorer. Just think of how effective Perry could be if he cut the nonsense out of his game. Problem is, Perry needs to rely on that style of play, because there's little support beyond his own line.

Anaheim doesn't have the luxury of having two all-world defensemen in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger anymore. Their defense is 23rd in the league in goals allowed per game.

So when I see things like two goals being wiped off the board, I can only smile. Couldn't happen to a better group of guys.

"We don't feel very good about the calls that went against us," Carlyle said on Sunday after losing to Dallas. "We made some mistakes in the game, but not for a lack of effort."

There's a little karma at play here. Carlyle's childish outburst on Saturday had nothing to do with Sunday's bad luck. Well, unless his expletives were actually directed at the officials.

That's a small fraternity certainly aware of what happened at the end of the Sharks win on Saturday.

The 60 Club

After next the regular season finale against the Phoenix Coyotes next weekend, it's all about the team. Until then, the Sharks get to thump their chests a little over individual accomplishments. The Sharks can boast having 5 players with 60 or more points, which is something not all that common this season.

Only the Ducks can make the same claim.

Hopefully that distributed offense will pay dividends come playoff time. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe will create problems for opposing defenses, because they'll only be able to defense against so many players at once.

If you've been paying any attention the last three weeks, you would have noticed that the Sharks offense has been clicking because everyone has been able to share in the scoring. It hasn't been one guy carrying the load.

Keep that going in the playoffs and the Sharks are poised to go deep.

Peeking or Ramping Up?

Funny thing an NHL season. Was it only a mere five months ago that fans were panicking over the Sharks 11-8-4 record through the first two months of the season? The scary thing is, San Jose had a much worse January, when their winning percentage was actually worse.

That would all change after the All Star break. In February and March, San Jose failed to record any points in four games…out of 27! Their 20-4-3 record over that two month span was white hot, and has obviously vaulted them to a top 3 team in the Western Conference.

Still, there isn't a lot of banter going on about their playoff chances. That, may be the best thing to hope for. There are zero expectations on this team. Nobody really takes them seriously and figures that any one loss will seal their fate in the playoffs.

That's exactly the kind of pressure this team needs.

Meaning none.

Hopefully their playoff opponents feel the same way about the Sharks. Little expectations can be a powerful motivator.


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