Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Niemi and Havlat still on hold

No news is as much good news as we’ll get about the Sharks’ injured players today:

“From my understanding, he’s close,” said McLellan, before adding he still hadn’t talked to the team trainers or doctors yet about his number one netminder. -Sharks Talk

Eeek gads but that is discouraging.  Time to interview the doctors, guys.  Get on that, would you?

News on Havlat is better but no more conclusive.  Saturday before the game, he was on the ice early and late, ending with some board work in the corners with Vandermeer and McLaren.  As expected, there was a lot of pushing and shoving involved in that.  According to Kurz, he was out there for the full practice today.  So that all sounds good. Still, waiting for strength to return is a slow thing.  So I won’t expect him back on Friday, but he will be back.

Marleau was out sick.  Oh well. Maybe the team can get the illness and injury bug out of the way, like getting vaccinated against later troubles.  It’s no fun but the team and the fans have no choice.  The rest of the team will have to step up, chase luck back the other way to catch it like a karmic backcheck.

Before I got a chance to see the end of the Wild @ NYI game today, I saw this tweet about it:

Michael Russo: “Outstanding Heatley backcheck breaks up Tavares breakaway”

Even though Twitter had ruined the game for me, I decided to go ahead and watch that.  I saw similar comments about Jagr in the Flyers’ first game, and I’m pretty sure I saw the same about Thornton last season.  Apparently it is a big deal when some guys take a backcheck seriously.

Obviously, it is a very important part of a well-executed game.  Just because you lose the puck and your attack plan fails, you can’t sit down on the ice and chew on your sleeve.  You have to go clean up the mess.  The quicker the better, get it over with.

It is a disheartening task.  It means your plan failed, you have to start over, at least.  At worst, it means you need a new plan, a defensive plan because the other guys are taking full advantage of your failure.  So a backcheck is inherently depressing.  You never have enough time to prepare for it, if you aren’t one of the faster skaters on the team you are going to have a hell of a time chasing that guy down, since he probably had a head of steam on when he blew by you.

Depressing.

But necessary.

And there it is.  I just saw the much-applauded backcheck by Heatley.  He is not one of the fastest skaters, but see how clever he was, letting the guy go just ahead of him and sneaking around behind to lift his stick?  That takes some presence of mind, some skill, some experience, and no moping.

Good job, Heater.

The backcheck isn’t an assigned task.  Everyone has to do it.  Everyone includes the team’s best players.  So I’m not surprised that they can do it, and I think it’s sort of silly to act surprised when they do.  I guess it might be surprising that the puck and an opposing player got by, but it happens.  Nobody’s perfect.  I guess most of the time acting surprised is just a way of tearing a player down.  Whatever, the haters need a new schtick.

The order of the day, week, month is win.  A lot, fast, early.  If the Sharks have to do this without Niemi and Havlat and possibly a less than razor-sharp Marleau, so be it.  Put plans A, B and C on the shelf, move on to D.  No whining, no fretting away energy.  Just do it.

Go Sharks.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi, injury, martin+havlat

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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