Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 03/04/12 at 03:10 PM ET
Sluggish. Disorganized. Inexplicable. Those are just a few of the words that come to mind about last night’s game, and by association the other seven losses in the last ten games. It makes me want to ask the Sharks “are you done? Do you feel better now?” You know, the way you ask a hysterical person if they have done all the shrieking and unintelligible ranting they need to do.
Because there is no rational explanation or excuse for the degree of ineptitude displayed lately by this team. Even McLellan’s absence does not explain it, because he has only been out for the last three games. The lack of preparedness and execution we’re seeing now has been there for a while, it’s just gotten worse.
Douglas Murray called it a funk. So I looked that word up. I know what it means, but sometimes there’s more to a word than you realize. In Middle English, it meant “spark, touchwood, or tinder.” By the time Modern English came around, “funk” had changed: “a verb meaning “to panic, fail due to panic”. Perhaps from ... obsolete Flemish fonck (“distress, agitation”), from Middle Dutch fonck (“perturbation, agitation”).” This is what happens when no one uses the dictionary: we can’t even tell the difference between a useful spark and panic-induced failure.
Funk also refers to an offensive smell, or a depressed state of mind. Well, I guess that makes sense: games against the Blues are a bummer and right now the Sharks stink. Murray really chose a zinger of a word there.
I’m not willing to blame this mess on work ethic or lack of urgency. Clearly the plan is a problem too, and that’s on the coaches. Nothing made sense last night. The lines made no sense, sitting the fourth line made no sense (unless someone was injured, in which case we should have heard about that by now), clearly no one was communicating which is often a sign that things don’t make sense even to the communicators and the vets. If you don’t all follow the same plan you had might as well be speaking different languages.
I noticed during one of the Sharks’ better offensive pushes that White kept a puck in. I was glad to see him stop that puck from coming out. It may not seem like much but I have watched him back away from a puck as it approached the blue line so many times that I wanted to scream “it’s right there! You can reach it! Just push it back in!” So that drives me crazy and to see him take that one small step forward got my attention.
He followed that keep-in up by jumping in a little. These were signs that he was making an effort, that he was willing to take a risk. The team was blocking a lot of shots, I don’t think work or effort was the problem. That saying comes to mind: “don’t work harder, work smarter.” Even if some of them do work smart, if they aren’t being smart in the same way the results will be the same as working dumb. Maybe it’s just more of that “playing like individuals instead of like a team” thing. Maybe their trust in themselves and each other is so eroded that they couldn’t follow a plan if the diagram was pinned inside their visors.
“Simplify.” That’s another thing you hear that struggling teams need to do. I don’t care what it takes, simplify to the level of single-cell organisms if need be. Not enough time? To do what? When you hit a dead end, you have no choice but to turn back. Buy 24 copies of the same dictionary, sit down together and find the right words.
At this point, the playoffs seem beside the point. Wouldn’t it be an unnecessary cruelty to put them in there against teams that have been honing their game all season, preparing for it? But it would be nice to see them finish with a little dignity, at least acting like a team trying to win a few games.
So, Sharks, are you done now? Are you going to settle down and play like you mean it and have a plan, or are you ready to miss the playoffs? One way or another, with just 18 games left, you’re done.
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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 email@example.com