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Cold-Blooded Old Times
Bring back the gritty days
4/12/12 - By Ken Smyth -

I'm guilty. I confess. Like most of you, including the Sharks' players, I spent the season in the "wait for ninety points and start getting interested" mode. But reality whacked us all the face and knocked those teal-tinted glasses off. A death-march road trip, injuries to multiple regular players, and then some comebacks in the last two weeks brought the Sharks back to familiar territory not too many years ago: a low seed in the playoffs.

Those old days were exciting to a degree. Even now, each year after the Sharks' get bounced out of the playoffs there are those who mumble how much more fun those teams were and that maybe Doug Wilson should break up the team and rebuild, letting us relive the old Owen Nolan and scrappy Sharks vs the world thing. Well, they got half their wish. Will the Sharks show some scrap, or soon be it?

If you drink the kool-aid left over from the beginning of the season, this team greatly underperformed and is eager for a chance to redeem itself. If you're like me, and look at how this season stacks up against life, the universe and the Western Conference in general; you note that the Sharks' core is getting older, their goal production is beginning to slide, and those crappy teams we used to beat on are getting better, or as some say "getting all the lucky bounces". A first round loss will mean major changes on and probably behind the bench.

Even in their good days, this present bunch of Sharks was reluctant to crush an opponent in the playoffs. They'd cough up the home ice advantage by losing games in San Jose; and last year let the Wings push the second round to seven games after being down 3-0. It requires real faith to expect that this core will rise up and beat the Blues.

So, Sharks, prove me wrong. The Blues took the four regular season games, outscoring you 10-3. In the three games they've played against you with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench they've held off your first period blitz very nicely.

There is no excuse for taking them lightly. It should be no secret how Hitchcock's don't-call-it-a-trap system works in the playoffs; someplace downstairs in the Tank there's a room with tapes of his old Dallas teams.

Mike Ricci and Bryan Marchment are on the staff and played against them for the Sharks in 1998 and 2000. The Blues have less talent than those Dallas teams, but with no superstar egos in their dressing room they're a better bunch for Hitchcock to work with. Play patient, play solid and take advantage of the few openings you get. Otherwise, the off-season could get quite cold-blooded.

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