Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Hurry up and wait

The Sharks wanted to start the season off fast.  That sounds like a good plan, even if the NHL schedule made us hurry up and wait for a week before the next game.  I also wish these starts were not against the Yotes and the Ducks. The Ducks should offer some resistance but the current incarnation of the Phoenix Coyotes is hardly rigorous competition for what some are calling the best Sharks team ever, or in a very long time.  That’s why a blowout was sort of on the agenda Saturday night, especially after that preseason game I can’t seem to remember.

Everything was going according to plan until the end.  I imagine it’s hard to keep playing hard when there’s not much push back.  The Sharks won 6-3, but for quite a while the score was lots more lopsided than that. There are several good recaps of the game: 

Fear the Fin
Mercury News
Working the Corners

If you haven’t already, go read those.  I did.

Of all the things I was planning to look for in the game, I was not expecting to be so startled by Burnzie’s deadly earnest game face. 

I’m not sure that seeing Wingels on the 2nd line told me much about him as a regular 3rd liner, but it does seem like he and McGinn can hold down the fort until Havlat gets back.  I saw the slightest hesitation from McGinn at times, but when he did act it was with that bold confidence that makes things happen.  Hesitation can be good, if it means you’re thinking a little harder before acting. 

Beyond that, I have nothing to add to the game recaps listed above.  Instead, I will backtrack to before the game.

I’ve noticed a that Sharks practices look different this year, compared to last year.  One of the things I like about hockey is the visual aspect, the patterns and shapes and sequential movements.  If the team is playing well, all the pieces move with purpose, instead of some straggling behind or the line getting snagged and tangled like a loose thread on opposing players. 

Last year one of my questions in the form of a complaint about Sharks practice was a lack of full engagement.  I don’t mean people were being lazy or anything, I mean there seemed to be too many players standing around with nothing to do, or waiting to do stuff for longer than it took them to do it.  Like long lines for drills, or too many drills that don’t give the goalies anything to do but make their own fun. It ends up looking like a logjam surrounded by eddies, instead of a harmonious flow.

I have seen no such choreographic failures lately.  All the players seem to be moving, active, doing something through most of the practice.  This includes the goalies.  I don’t know if this is a function of it being early in the season or not.  I hope not.  Everyone’s at work, something to do, most of the time.  There may be several drills going on at the same time or one very big drill using everyone, but ice time, space, players are not wasted.  Practices seem efficient and purposeful.

By comparison, I found the Coyotes pregame skate somewhat untidy and dawdling.  That surprised me.  From what I have heard of Tippett, it seems like even if he is stuck with a team of mostly unspectacular players, he would at least put them to work.  I admit it probably was not the most representative practice for the Yotes: game day, in front of Sharks coaching staff, etc. 

One particular thing made me say “huh?”  Some faceoffs were performed in the most lackadaisical fashion I have ever seen.  Surely I was missing something, this must have been some special exercise I have just not seen the Sharks do.  The players didn’t hardly bend at the waist, held their arms slack, completely unready.  Maybe it was a drill for “in case you aren’t paying attention when the puck is dropped, how fast can you get back in the game?”  Not much later, they did practice more convincing faceoffs.  I still don’t know what to make of all that. 

It took me a while to figure out which goalie was where since I had not seen them with their masks off and had to google the masks to make a reasonable guess.  I had finally figured out who was who when someone’s phone went missing.  I went through that recently and found it most alarming.  So I helped look for that and when I got back to watching practice, Smith had left, LaBarbera was still out.  That was really the only thing I was waiting for from the Yotes.  Not that it mattered who would start really, I just wanted to stay until one of them left.

Speaking of goalies, Greiss had a challenging game Saturday.  Seeing so few shots to start, it had to be difficult to maintain focus.  When he did face shots, he made those saves.  It wasn’t until things got hairy during the late penalty kills that… well, he saw a lot of shots in quick succession.  He did stop most of them.  So I guess he did fine for a strange, uneven game like that.  It was also a good thing for him to get to play in a season opener.  Even if he hasn’t been the number one goalie for the Sharks, it seems about time he got to do that.

Get well, soon, Nemo.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: jamie+mcginn, phoenix+coyotes, practice, thomas+greiss, tommy+wingels

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net