Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Everyone’s a critic

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

I once had a professor explain the difference between criticism and criticising.  The first is an attentive analysis of the work, the second is just saying mean things.  Obviously that's not how he put it, but it works.  At times like these, the lines blur.  I tried to watch the Sharks play in Dallas without judging.  I started out okay, but I couldn't hold the line:

Couture from second line center to top line winger. Marleau and Pavelski to the second line.  Gomez from healthy scratch to second line center. Kennedy from third line to fourth, Desi back to center, Burish back to the wing.  What a difference some badly-timed roughhousing makes.

Okay, I shouldn't count the Kennedy move as a result of Clowe being out.  That was probably just Sheppard returning to his rightful place on the only line that McLellan didn't dismantle.

Braun and Demers are trading games like they lack conditioning, Burns was put in the game though he probably does.  Naturally he gets re-injured.   I couldn't see a hard hit that would have hurt him, not in the replay CSN chose anyway.  I also have a bizarre conviction that someone tweeted Burns wasn't 100% before the game.  I can't for the life of me figure out why I think that.

Jagr is so considerate, taking that penalty to even things up after Vlasic was unjustly imprisoned.  Of course you can't expect him to just hand the game over.  If you let him go roving around in front of the net, he's going to score.

What the hell is up with these youngsters wanting to fight Thornton?  Oh, it looks like that might have been Jumbo's idea.  Maybe he needed some quiet time.

The Sharks just can't get their shooting in order.  These low-scoring games are what happens when you don't shoot enough.  Shooting enough for some teams isn't enough for others.  20 shots through two periods, for example, isn't enough for Sharks, not by a warehouse district mile.

Why exactly is Woodcroft the one talking to the team during the timeout before a last push for two goals in 40 seconds...

There was a time when the Sharks could actually hope to pull that off, when a minute was plenty of time to score two.  That was a long time ago.

What in the world is Woodcroft going to do about it?  Maybe McLellan has nothing more to say.

By the end of that game I thought "geez, in McLellan's shoes I'd be ready for a change of scenery."  I mean, he's clearly cracking up anyway, what was Gomez doing centering Marleau and Pavelski?  I get that Gomez probably has something to offer, but why not just put him in the open spot, or at least work him into a lower line, since he hasn't played for five games?  Is Couture still sore about being pinned to the ice by the neck back in Montreal?

McLellan isn't the only one grasping at straws.  There are several theories about what has gone wrong in Shark Territory, and as many solutions, from trading Dan Boyle to firing the coach.  Boyle's probably 50% of the team's functioning offense right now.  He's 14th in shots among defensemen in the league, fifth on the team.  So he'd be hard to replace.  Another favorite is: bench Douglas Murray and Michal Handzus.  Since the 5 on 3 penalty kill was pretty much the highlight of the Sharks' game, I think the team can carry those two a little longer.  But what the heck, toss 'em all.  Clearly this emphasis on defense has crippled the team.

Fire McLellan, replace him with Larry Robinson, aka He Who Taught the Sharks How to Kill a Penalty.  But who needs a penalty kill?   Just look at the standings.  Of the top five teams in the league, only ONE of them has a more successful penalty kill than the Sharks.  Of the top ten, only three do.  In the Western Conference, only one team ahead of the Sharks in the standings has a better penalty kill.  So that's clearly a big waste of time.

David Pollak made the interesting suggestion that something happened, related or not, around the same time that Hasso Plattner bought out Compton and Sclavos.  For that to be more than a coincidence would imply a much more hands-on relationship between ownership and players than has been supposed.

Ray Ratto expanded on that by suggesting that since neither Doug Wilson nor Todd McLellan will ever be fired, Wilson should fire Plattner.

Odds are that the ownership change coincided with something else, but there is a something going on here.  Streaky as the Sharks have been in the past, this must be some kind of record for Sharks not having their heads in the game.  

It's upsetting to think about what kind of news or situation would send the whole team, or enough of them to drag the others, into such a tailspin.  Upsetting.  No one likes upsetting stories.

Much easier to imagine something far-fetched, like players having their feelings hurt because the owner called hockey a silly thing:

Plattner indicated he wants the Sharks to operate in a business-like fashion. But at this point in his life, financial considerations are not necessarily the top priority.
"You cannot make money with a hockey team," he said. "You cannot make money with a hotel, either, and you cannot make money with a golf club. I have all three of them. When you have a certain amount of money, you do silly things -- because it's pretty to have a golf course and it's interesting to have a hockey team." -Mercury News

Guys, guys, he called the team interesting, not just a silly thing to spend money on.  Do I need to explain again how vitally important silly things are to everyone's quality of life?  No?  Good.

If you're going to tie the team's troubles to Plattner, you'd might as well add that Gomez played his first game with the Sharks on the 26th.  That was only four days before the team announced the ownership adjustment.  And the team won four after that with Gomez in the lineup.  And then they lost a couple without him.   I know, it's crazy to blame it on one guy, whether or not he's on the roster or on the ice.  Crazy.

Kevin Kurz questioned the fact that McLellan blamed Burns for his mistake in the Chicago game, but didn't blame Murray for allowing the Jagr goal and then being in the box for the game winner.  I don't think it's hard to understand that: Burns made a bad decision, did his job wrong.  Murray made an otherwise good decision (stop the guy with the puck, which is what Burns didn't do) that ended badly.  How mad can you get at a guy when he does what he's supposed to do?

The horror of it has sent me into an astrological relapse.  Clearly the problem is that the team has too many confrontation-averse water signs.  See how well Havlat and Couture understand each other, with so little time together?  Yeah, they're fire signs, they're actually the same fire sign: Aries.  Fire likes air.  Clowe's an air sign.  And the top line, or what should be the top line?  Water and earth.  Water's tough to move or contain but earth does it better than air or fire do.  So of course Marleau (earth), Thornton (water) and Pavelski (water) get on well.

So what does McLellan do?  Throws water on fire.  To be fair, for the second line he just replaced water with water, but what if Marleau was already saturated?  You can't just keep flooding earth without running the risk that things will end up where you don't want them, like back on the line they want to be on, even if it means double-shifting.

None of this makes logical sense?  What in the heck makes logical sense about the Sharks right now?  It's time for the team to dig down and find the bedrock, because adding fill isn't getting the job done.

Maybe they would find a simple solution, like this one:

@chrissampang: ... I could also protest Jack In The Box for the clear effect their promotion has had on this franchise's health.  CORRELATION!...Three WCF appearances with 4 In The Net, Pizza You Get.

Maybe Round Table made a deal with the devil, and the payback was a guarantee that the Sharks would score four on a regular basis.  Maybe the mere repetition of the phrase was enough to make the Sharks think they could score four goals in a single game.  Remember when they could do that?  Would it help if the audience just burst into a "Pi-zza! Pi-zza!" chant at the next home game?  But they'll have to start right away, and not wait for three goals.

Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: critics, doug+wilson, douglas+murray, hasso+plattner, joe+thornton, penalty+kill, scott+gomez, todd+mclellan

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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