| How good are these guys,
Fear and Loathing in San Jose
With the first month of the NHL season now in the
rear-view mirror, many fans are starting to get a sense of whether this will be
a year to forget, or one to remember. What makes this process even more
interesting is the internal soul searching that only those people who live and
die with each game can engage in; an emotional high or low that is the product
of identifying with the crest on the front more than the name on the back. And
just like a romantic flirtation, these feelings can blind even the most jaded
of supporters, or conversely cause pessimism and denial to reign even when the
team is doing well.
But enough with the philosophy! The core question
that each fan base is starting to ask right now is: 'How good are these guys,
Nowhere has this question been asked more in the last few
years then San Jose, where hope and pessimism seem to coexist eternally. When
the Sharks are winning like they have been this year, the future seems bright
and the only obstacles self-imposed. I mean, even without Havlat, Burns, and
Torres the San Jose has run roughshod over the NHL for a month, and those guys
will be healthy soon. The sky really does seem to be the limit!
the more jaded fans would point out that the offense is beginning to cool off,
and easy wins are turning into overtime or shootout victories - if not shootout
loses. And of course the specter of the playoffs still looms large for this
franchise. Until the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Finals, and perhaps win the
Cup, the naysayers will continue to doubt how good San Jose really is.
So the question is: how good ARE they?
Statistically, they rank near
the top of every category league wide. Joe Thornton is coming off one of the
best Octobers of his career, Tomas Hertl leads in rookie goal scoring, and Anti
Niemi has yet to allow more than 3 goals throughout regulation in any game this
year. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau are starting to heat up, the defense
corps is holding its own, and Mark-Eduard Vlasic is starting to generate
attention for a spot on Team Canada.
But that doesn't fully answer how
To really get a grasp on that, we need to look beyond the
stats at the way the Sharks have been playing the game. Coaches like to say
'results flow from process', and in this regard San Jose has been putting on a
clinic. Throughout the first 14 games of the season the Sharks have been
playing hungry, puck possession hockey. While that hasn't always resulted in
goals, with an average of 37 shots for a game, it seems self-evident that they
have been dictating the style, tempo, and direction of play. If success does
flow from playing the game your way, then the Sharks are every bit as good as
their record hints.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from the first
month of the season is that it might be time to accept that the San Jose Sharks
really are a good team. Let that sink in a moment - they are a good team. A
really good team in fact. Maybe we as fans have gotten used to that, or maybe
the unfulfilled expectations of the past make it hard for all of us to really
believe in them and embrace regular season success. After all, loving them now
would only make any let down later on hurt all the more.
But does that
really matter? Is retaining the right to say 'I never really believed in them'
worth missing out on the fun of this ride? Right now, let's all sit back and
enjoy what we got. The roster is getting healthier, the schedule looks
favorable, and the team looks motivated to do great things.
are these guys, really?
Contact Ryan at
|What did you think of
this article? Post your comments on the Feeder Forums