Petshark: Talking Stick
Last night, the California NHL teams with new coaches faced off. The game went to a shootout. I think this could be good news for Sharks fans, because unless both the Kings and the Ducks have already made enormous strides with their new coaches, it looks like they are not much changed from the state of terrible that got their previous coaches fired. I don’t know how many people expected dramatic improvement, especially from the Kings since their new coach just arrived the day before. Coaches aside, these are mostly the same teams that suddenly failed to perform for coaches they did pretty well with last season.
I am not above wanting our team’s opponents to play badly. Hockey players may be proud enough to prefer to win a good game instead of an uneven one, but I don’t have any compunctions about being greedy for points no matter who the Sharks get them from. What about that idea that the Sharks play better against tougher opponents? Throw it out. What about the fact that the Sharks played better on the road? Toss it. What about the Sharks playing better in the [fill in the blank] period and falling down in the others? Forget it. Starting from zero is the best approach after a gluttonous victory like we saw Wednesday. That game against Tampa Bay broke with all the Sharks’ trends this season, including being the fourth home win in a row.
Martin Havlat is out of the Sharks lineup, no one knows for how long:
@markedwinemmons: “Todd McLellan said don’t expect to see Marty Havlat back until at least after Christmas. That means at least two games out.”
@KKurzCSN: “Havlat out at least through this weekend. Surgery? “At this point, not that I know of,” said McLellan.”
So Benn Obi-Wan Ferriero is back, just in time for the holiday roster freeze. If he plays one more NHL game he loses his waiver exempt status. Isn’t it time anyway? The Sharks could have called up Wingels if they wanted to use someone who could be sent back safely. The curious case of Benn Ferriero might be close to resolution.
Will he stay for an extended period? Get traded? Sent back down? Would he clear waivers? Doug Wilson didn’t comment on the long term plan for Ferriero, why would he? There are many possibilities. NHL rosters have to function as on multiple timelines, in several alternate universes. In one universe, Ferriero is in Carolina, in another he’s right here on San Jose’s third line, in another he’s back in Worcester, and then there’s the universe populated entirely by shrimp where he has to work as a salt water filtration technician.
Dan Boyle gave an injury update last night after the game:
“I don’t want to make it sound like an excuse, but [injuries have] been a factor. I had a broken foot there for a while, and it really hurt my skating. Just being healthy for me has been a big difference the last five or six games or so.” -Sharks Talk
“A big difference.” You don’t say.
Let’s go back a little ways in the saga of Dan Boyle explaining his troubles this season:
“The game’s changed,” he said. “Everybody’s playing the same way – the neutral zone is pretty much eliminated, which is where I get a lot of my offense. Everybody just fires long bombs, chipping it in. It’s just a little bit more frustrating for me.” -Working the Corners, Nov 27, 2011
There’s that. Maybe Boyle was in the painful process of updating and revamping his style of play. Or maybe his sticks were too long and he had a broken foot.
Todd McLellan says he doesn’t think booing is a good motivational tool, but he’ll take it if it works. I agree. I prefer a stern silence, but any help is welcome. The Sharks did get booed Thursday night. Even though they won, there were still holes in their game big enough to boo.
In a few minutes, Nitty will start for the Worcester Sharks against the Albany Devils. I guess the Sharks’ goalie glut is upon us.
I didn’t feel at all like booing the Sharks Thursday. Sure, I would have preferred a more complete win, without all that falling behind nonsense. I would have preferred they beat a team that was not green, was less tired, and was playing better. I would have preferred fewer penalties, and maybe a pk that could survive without Marleau. But it was a win and I’m happy for it.
Apparently Todd McLellan chose “trust” as the theme of the season for the Sharks. If the team has been doing trust exercises, I bet there are a lot of bruised derrieres right now. This morning Twitter was fairly quiet regarding the Sharks. Two lone tweets came out from practice saying only that the gates were closed and the injured defensemen were skating before the group. It was an unsettling silence, a silence that allowed for all manner of speculation after yesterday’s loss.
@FTFsTCY: “There are definitely rumors floating around today. Just an FYI that any involving Marleau are bunk. He has a full NMC.”
It turns out that David Pollak was still in transit from Denver, and his internet access was limited. Kevin Kurz was ill. I guess Mark Emmons just didn’t feel very chatty. Nothing much came out today in terms of Sharks news, especially about the NHL issues of the day. No one has a concussion and McLellan has not been fired. And no, Marleau is not being traded (as far as we know).
In college, I read about a ritual in some Native American cultures where you give away all your possessions. This is supposed to get rid of your bad luck, spiritual crisis or mental funk. Is that what the Sharks are doing, giving away the puck and fan patience, bit by bit each game? I think doing it by accident misses the point.
And still their even strength scoring plummets, their power play ails, points slip away. Their penalty kill seems better than before, but is that just compared to the fall off of the rest? Last night, Kevin Kurz tweeted:
“Blues may have played well defensively, but I’m not completely buying some of the post game quotes. Final recap, here: http://t.co/nm2BubxJ”
Before even reading those quotes, I thought “I don’t buy them either.” The Sharks are usually understated in their postgamers (which has to make you wonder what Clowe or Boyle say off camera). Even so, there just doesn’t seem to be any valid excuse for this loss. Perhaps a mea culpa on a par with Bryzgalov’s “lost in the woods” speech. Maybe that would do.
It wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that the stars were aligned so the Sharks would win Thursday. Statistically, Dallas was expected to lose. But the Sharks haven’t really been following statistical rules lately, have they? So better to say they are following some metaphysical pattern that we can’t quantify. Maybe Cancer got shot up by a meteor shower and all its children are still picking up the pieces.
Most Sharks had good reason to be a little cranky, impatient, even pissed off with themselves. Were they angry at each other? Of course not, hockey players don’t get angry with teammates. In any case, one would hope they’d had enough of losing and were ready to win.
All I needed from the Sharks Thursday was to not lose to another team they should beat. Their recent outings had lowered the bar for what I required from a Sharks game. I won’t put the Panthers in the class of “teams Sharks should beat handily” just yet. But there were the Habs too. Sure, the Sharks beat them. That was fun but it could have been less suspenseful. Minnesota? Yeah, they’re doing pretty well but there’s no reason to think the Sharks can’t beat them. Every time.
During a broadcast of a Worcester Sharks game the other day, Ben Guite mentioned goalie drills. He wasn’t very specific, but he said that shooting drills were more fun than goalie drills, if you’re not a goalie, which he isn’t. I don’t remember if he used those terms, but this answered a question I had some time ago about goalies at team practice. I wondered if goalies get enough or the right kind of practice when they practice with the team. The answer seems to be: not really.
Even when the goalie is engaged in the drills, seeing a lot of shots, if those shots are practice for the shooters, they will probably be varied, the kind of shot that particular skater needs to practice. The goalie will get work, he will get some practice, but it’s not comprehensive.
The Minnesota Wild’s goalie was green, no one knew what to expect from him. That is worth a couple wins. It would make more sense to be beaten by Harding, or Backstrom if he was available, but I could make the excuse that it’s harder to beat a good prospect the first time you see him than a few games down the road. Let the puns commence. By all accounts, Hackett can.
The Sharks D-pairs were described in advance as all over the map. I could dig my nails into that excuse and hang on for all my fingers are worth.
Why? This loss feels like one too many. Despair sets in so quick these days. It doesn’t seem possible for the Sharks to right this mess. It could happen, we fans would buck right up with a taste of victory. Instead, this ship of fans is becalmed at sea, supplies running low, the stench hinting of plague. Panic is in the air, buffered only by fatigue. Mutiny is imminent. Someone finds a rum hoard.
Things might be about to get a little crazy in Shark territory. That whole philosophy of always pairing an offensive defenseman with a shut down guy could very well be scrapped tonight. Those who called for Braun and Demers to be paired, or for Ian White to have never been let go… well, you probably won’t get your wish but the sands are shifting on the blue line, according to Kevin Kurz and Brodie Brazil.
@brodiebrazilCSN: “Pretty sure #sjsharks will not dress 7 d based on how long Colin White was on the ice after practice.”
@KKurzCSN: “White and McLaren skated long today, so looks like they are scratches. As far as D pairs, look for 22-44, 88-61 and 2-60 if I had to guess.”
88 and 61? Burns and Braun? Even if it isn’t that pair, the team is short a DD without White, since Murray is out. This could get very interesting.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org