Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

The gift horse

Dwayne Roloson will start for Tampa Bay tonight.  Roloson has been having a very stinky season.  I hate to see a goalie demoralized, especially a Libra.  Writing that makes me worry if I just did something that will make him have the best game he’s had for a very long time.  N’ah, I’m not really worried about that, what I was worried about was this road trip. 

The length of it didn’t worry me.  The Sharks haven’t played as well on the road this season, winning just over 62% at home but only 52% on the road.  I didn’t count OT points but I guess I should.  Do that and they have points in almost 69% of their home games, 68% on the road.  A rule of thumb: don’t quote me on the math, I can’t count.  Still, that didn’t worry me.

I was worried about the teams the Sharks are playing on this trip: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Minnesota, Columbus, throw Detroit and Nashville in to spice things up, and then remember Washington.  I don’t know where to put Toronto on the worry scale, but I don’t think they tip the balance. On average, it’s not a daunting list.  I looks like a gift horse.  You don’t want to look it in the mouth because it would be rude but also the chances are good that the gift is older than it appears and it probably has crummy teeth.  The gift horse will require extra care and feed and, in the end, will be more of a burden than a gift.

Yes, the Sharks won their last game, against the Capitals.  Read Matthew Tate’s account of that game right here on Kukla’s Korner.  The Caps didn’t seem any better than they were when the Sharks faced them in San Jose.  So yes, the Sharks turned in a very good performance but…

After the Blues shut the Sharks out, the Blues lost to the Blue Jackets.  Yep, those Blue Jackets.  The ones sitting their trade-worthy players for practice today, players like Nash and Carter. A team that has abandoned hope, they beat the Blues.  Maybe it’s a color thing, maybe Halak got confused by all the blue.  Anyway, the Blues are not unbeatable.

Right afterwards, the Sharks were rewarded with that game against the Caps, who decided to call up a fighter from the AHL to stop the Sharks from beating them up, because that’s what everyone expects from the Sharks, right?  I got some amusement (despite my aversion to fights) out of this tweet from Stephen Whyno about who the Caps might be thinking of when they called Joel Rechlicz up:

@SWhyno:Jamie McGinn is fighter on #SJSharks side. Douglas Murray is an equal-opportunity hitter but is clean and good at it. #Caps

Well, he’s right about Murray but, silly rabbit, McGinn’s only had two fighting majors this season, and then in games where absolutely everyone was going at it.  McGinn’s working on other aspects of his game right now.  I suggest Mr. Rechlicz do the same.  It’s the coming thing. There are others, several in fact, more likely to fight than McGinn.

Rechlicz didn’t end up fighting anyone.  I think that was wise of him, since his first choice was apparently Douglas Murray.  Sure, I can understand why a team would want Murray to sit for a few, but are you serious Mr. Rechlicz?

The Caps were scrambling and worried about all the wrong things.

Tampa Bay?  I don’t expect a like strategy from them.  What they plan to do doesn’t concern me.  If the Sharks give as much effort as they gave against the Caps and keep their heads, they are completely capable of winning handily. 

Then they face Carolina, another team that isn’t all it can be.  Which is why this set of games made me nervous.  It is deceptive.  The Sharks can use the points, they need to avoid injuries, and who doesn’t benefit from some confidence-building?  They can use another reliable, experienced, productive winger.  They can get some of those things by playing a series of games against struggling teams, but not all of them, and at what cost?  Is it too early to be putting the pedal down, testing the team’s real depth?

All the remaining Sharks games this season fit on my medium sized computer monitor, set at 1280 x 1024, no scrolling required.  So no, I don’t think it’s too soon.   

That was what worried me, but I am prone to panic.

I have some experience with gift horses, so I asked myself “have I ever looked a gift horse in the mouth?  How did those gift horses work out?”  They were all pretty good horses, mostly low maintenance, a high level show horse or two.  One was a baby that needed leg surgery, but she went on to win some championships.  (Sheppard?)  The latest gift horse is more of a “left horse”.  No one actually asked if we would take him.  He came here to keep an old sick mare company and when she died, he just sort of stayed.  He is very old, 30+, no one knows for sure.  He will die soon.  But right now he’s no trouble, lives happily with the other horses, doesn’t need special food or care.  He’s fine, he’s easy.

So far, so good, as gift horses go.  Why would it be any different for the Sharks?

Maybe.  Maybe a run like this is just what they need, a breather of sorts. It’s good for them: plenty of exercise, minimal stress, nice hotels, the good feelings that come from winning….if they do win.  I know, they might not.  It could be just the warm up they need to face the Red Wings, in Detroit.  I would almost bet money that the Sharks will be in a position to break the Wings much touted home winning streak. 

This trip looks great for collecting points. It is an opportunity to build momentum, get used to winning.  That’s a tall order, but not impossible.  Like beating the Blues.  It can be done.

What do I see as the hot spots in the remaining schedule?  There’s St. Louis again, a last chance for redemption against a team sitting 22nd in the league for scoring.  Then there’s Detroit- always a problem, and the Preds, two times.  They’re always troublesome. Anaheim: they’re on some kind of berserker run, gotta keep an eye on them.  The Sharks meet them twice more.  Boston- irredeemable thugs that they are, they do more than offend my sensibilities, things that are an actual problem for opposing teams. 

I’m not listing the Flyers.  They are in quite a state, who knows what the Sharks will see from them.  And LA.  LA, ehllay ehllay ehllay… well, the Sharks know them well anyway.  Likewise Phoenix.

Tonight it’s the Lightning, not exactly the same as the Caps or the Canes or the Wild, but vulnerable.  I think the word Thornton once used (inaccurately in that case) was “soft.”  Yes, they are soft and sensitive like a bruise.  That other time the word came up, that hadn’t worked out so well, was more like a sign of things to come for the Rangers.  So nothing is over, nothing is certain, except that we should all be very cranky if the Sharks do not win tonight.

Go Sharks!

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: columbus+blue+jackets, dwayne+roloson, gift+horse, road+trip, st.+louis+blues, tampa+bay+lightning, washington+capitals

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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