Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

The Kings’ new clothes

Here’s what’s been said about last night’s game against the LA Kings: “Sharks hold court over Kings in 4-2 win,”  “Sharks learn from mistakes, trump Kings 4-2,” “San Jose Sharks defeat Los Angeles Kings 4-2.”  Now that’s more like it, Sharks.

During the second intermission, I heard a man say behind me “3-1, huh? Isn’t that what the score was last time…” But another man cut him off saying “What the hell… saying that…. What are you trying to do?!?”

I kept telling myself “lightning never strikes the same spot twice, right?”  Of course we all know that isn’t true, especially if you set up a lightning rod.

Everyone was pretty much on tenterhooks during that third period.  Maybe the Sharks weren’t, maybe they knew what they had to do and planned to do it.  But a lot of us outside the glass were pretty nervous.

At intervals during the game, the electronic message board would flash “Beat LA” with an accompanying drum beat to encourage people to say this in unison.  Lots of people did so.  It wasn’t until the dying minutes of the game, during that last Sharks penalty kill, that the crowd started the chant unprompted.  I don’t know if everyone was holding their breath before that but the suspense did linger until the last seconds.

During the game @JosieMist tweeted how much she hated the Kings’ road whites.  I agree.  They’re way too white, which is a strange thing to say since road whites are, you know, mostly white.  But there’s something chilly and faint about that white.  You have to be dark skinned to pull that off, especially so close to your face.  If you’re not, you look sallow, peaked, or poorly oxygenated.

Which is kind of appropriate.  There is something a little strangled about how the Kings are playing.  Not to detract from the way the Sharks got their act together, but the Kings seem to have systemic issues that choke the creativity out of some pretty awesome players.  It’s like the leash is pulled too tight.  I was a little surprised that Murray isn’t using Richards and Gagne on the same line.  Maybe he did when I wasn’t looking and it didn’t work out.  Still…

As Helene Elliott put it, this Kings team really should be better than they are.  The same has been said about the Sharks at times but it seems different, very different:

@helenenothelen : To those calling for Terry Murray’s firing: Lombardi has been very loyal to him, didn’t waver thru 2-10 slump last season, but this is supposed to be a better team. They’re spending near cap for first time. I have to think a jolt of some kind is coming.

The Kings aren’t doing that badly, maybe due to their uncommonly good goaltending.  It’s possible no jolt is coming.  That would be too bad for Richards and Gagne and those other talented players in LA, but just fine for the Sharks.

The Sharks forward lines all seem to be firing pretty well now, however McLellan decides to mix them up. Even the fourth line got particular praise from the coach:

“I thought Desi’s line gave us some grind time, some offensive zone time, some play along the boards and in the blue paint,” the coach said. “That was a good thing for our team as well.” -Working the Corners

Last night there was another change, but this time on the blue lines: White moved “up” to play with Burns, and Vlasic “down” to play with Braun.  I don’t like those “up” and “down” labels because there is no reason to suppose Vlasic was being penalized.  He has been stellar this season.  So what was up with that?

As the regular season started, I watched Burns charge around the ice in the first few games, with Vlasic scrambling, (pretty effectively, but he did have his hands full) to get his back or clean up his mess.  I thought “whoa, maybe Burns needs a more seasoned shut down guy to balance him…”  They worked it out, Burns settled down and the pair was looking awfully good.

White and company, on the other hand, did not look so good.  McLellan has been swapping Demers and Braun in and out of that 3rd pair.  He also tried Vandermeer in there a bit, but it turns out that was mostly because White was injured.  It looks to me like moving Vlasic “down” was the first sign that maybe McLellan is not entirely satisfied with what White is doing.  Maybe, just maybe, Demers and Braun are not to blame. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Vlasic and Demers reunited again, if Vandermeer is not a better option than White.

More than one person tweeted that this was Boyle’s first goal of the season, and that this was the longest it has ever taken him as a Shark.  I’m just glad to see him and Murray playing well again. I thought Murray had a very good game.  Much much steadier.  If you are going to be sent to the box unjustly, being accused of holding someone’s stick while you are extracting it from your face is as good as any.  Even better than not running into or over each other, the top D pair seems to be getting their groove back.  I’m sure that first goal for Boyle is just the beginning.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: colin+white, dan+boyle, douglas+murray, jason+demers, justin+braun, los+angeles+kings, marc-edouard+vlasic

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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