Kukla's Korner Hockey
by petshark on 08/04/11 at 06:52 PM ET
The weather forecast last night went something like this: “No change in sight, lows in the 50s tonight, clear tomorrow with a high of 78.” That’s kind of how I feel about the Sharks roster right now: no worries. I’m a fairly easy sell, but I think in this case I’m not being unreasonable. For what it’s worth, Brodie Brazil is running a poll on FaceBook to see what FB fans think. So far, team “improved” is winning.
In a Twitter discussion yesterday that I can’t believe I horned in on, a certain magazine writer insisted that last season’s Sharks were better than the current roster, that if they had just kept the same group, they would have done better this year. He didn’t specifically say we need Wallin and Huskins back, just said last season the team was better.
Dennis Bernstein: “@danleecook using your logic, if Sharks are better, will be in Finals. I don’t have them winning division. DW should have kept intact.”
He used things like lost scoring and a predicted slump for Couture as evidence. Of course that’s ridiculous, the second part I mean. I don’t even think of this as Couture’s sophomore season, rather sophomore point five. There’s a good reason a lot of people didn’t believe he was eligible for Calder nomination last season: he had more NHL time under his belt than most candidates. I think that’s significant. I hope.
The lost scoring, I can’t argue with, however inconsistently that scoring was delivered. But a penny saved is a penny earned. I’m sure it applies also to scoring: if your defense does its job and even adds a little offense, it makes up for losing a couple of forwards you relied on for points.
You could argue that the Sharks suffered from lost scoring last season as well, due to a less than ideal re-tasking of assets from offense. It’s great for everyone to work on their defensive game but when you have to do it because your defense isn’t all it can be, it’s not good.
The addition of defenseman Colin White yesterday was met with some pomp and chatter. It is hard to tell what he will bring to the table. Injuries and the blindingly awful season the Devils just had clouds a fair assessment of his present value. But at that cap hit he should be a safe gamble. How he will be used will make the difference. I hope White doesn’t simply pick up where Wallin and Huskins left off. If that happens, the development of players like Braun (okay, I mean Braun, specifically) could be compromised. If there is any chance Braun will soon develop into a stronger player than White is now or will be again, then not using him enough would be unfortunate.
What I really like about Braun is how he reacts to mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, being caught off guard happens, especially to younger players. It doesn’t take Braun long to realize he missed something and get to fixing it. He’s much better in this regard than some of the forwards we lost over the summer.
It’s safe to say that getting Brent Burns is a win, despite the players we gave up. Though public opinion about the cost of his contract extension is split, it certainly could have been worse. Getting Martin Havlat may lessen the sting of losing Heatley and Setoguchi.
I get why there are concerns about the third line. Having Pavs on the third line may have been a slight of sorts, but it was pretty cool to have him there. Without him, the lower lines will be less wily. Wilson kept a few players who have been waiting in the wings, players like Desjardins and McGinn and McCarthy. I hope and believe they can surprise us. I liked what I saw in the playoffs from Desjardins and McGinn (despite some questionable decisions from the latter) and I very much like McCarthy’s tenacity.
Handzus did a yeoman’s job for LA last year. When they were hurting with injuries, he moved up to the top lines. They clearly trusted him, even if they didn’t want to promise him much this season.
With Ferriero, Mashinter, Murray (Andrew), and others, the Sharks have a lot of options for the lower lines. I’m not especially worried. Sure, if a deal he can’t refuse comes up, Wilson should take it. It just doesn’t appear urgent.
Which brings me back to Mr. Bernstein’s conviction that the Sharks are no better, probably worse than they were last year. He wanted me to say that, since I thought this team is better, I believe they will make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Evidently that is the only way he understands “better.”
I don’t see it that way at all. There’s many a slip twixt a cup and a lip, you can’t forecast all the twists and turns a hockey season takes. You can’t account for chemistry, luck, injuries etc. You would then have to do the same impossible calculation for all the other teams, or at least a handful of them. And your predictions would all have to come out right. I know a lot of people try to do this, and I’d bet the results are as accurate as if done by an astrologer. I mean a competent astrologer, not just someone who reads horoscopes for giggles.
I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that this team is better than it was in June, without asserting that I think they will win this or that ten months from now. Besides, if such predictions could be done, what would be the point in watching the games?
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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