Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 03/06/13 at 03:30 PM ET
Brad Stuart hasn't given anyone reason to regret that he's a Shark again, but last night he made a particular splash with some extra gritty play and a charming grin to show off the dental work he got during the game. Stuart made an excellent ambassador for a team that had just scrambled to a shootout win after dropping a two goal lead.
The Sharks were outshot (33-22 in regulation), out chanced, and generally out-played through much of the game, but how can you be angry when Stuey lost a tooth and hardly missed a beat? Not to mention the short-handed goal from Adam Burish (which Stuart also made possible) and Scott Gomez finally scoring. The Sharks still make me wonder.
Did Thornton seem out to lunch last night? Can the Sharks' top six score in the same game as the bottom six? What is this, segregation? What do we make of the line-jumpers like Clowe and Kennedy? Those are some of the questions I had after watching that game. I haven't the slightest idea how to answer them, and the post-gamer didn't offer answers.
Ray Ratto, calling the win a "ski-mask job," sounded like he thinks the Sharks are a better team than they seemed last night. Bret Hedican said much the same, enumerating his complaints:
I'm really disappointed in the Sharks and the way they performed tonight. Antti Niemi, A+ no doubt about it, Brad Stuart A+ tonight for the courage that he showed at the end of the game... the penalty kill A+, but their puck management from about the ten minute point of the first period throughout...most of the game until the last five minutes, the Canucks outplayed them...
Drew Remenda, in his defense of the Sharks' performance, came out sounding like he thought that the Canucks were a better team in terms of skill and/or speed:
There's no ski-mask job... this team came out tonight and busted their hump. This is against a faster team, but they played hard.... They did an outstanding job later on in the third period, they were able to push back when the Vancouver Canucks pushed. I thought the Sharks played a hell of a game tonight, I thought they showed a lot of character, I thought they showed a ton of drive and a desire to win...
Jamie Baker sided with Remenda. There must be a disconnect between the guys in Canada and the ones back here in California.
So, the Remenda-Baker defense of the Sharks' character cast doubt on their ability, and the Ratto-Hedican defense of their ability slighted their character. Which is worse? To be hard-working and mediocre, or gifted and lazy? If I had to chose between those, I would hope for the latter. At least there's room for improvement. Everyone likes a hard working honest guy better than a slacker, but nice guys finish where?
The easy answer is: did the Sharks make mistakes? If they made mistakes they can stop making them and they will be all that Ratto and Hedican think they can be. Did they pass the puck back when they should move it forward? Yep. Did they stand in front of their own net and fail to clear the puck when they might have? (Hence my Thornton question.) Is that an effort or talent issue? Where does communication fall in the spectrum? If the mistakes stem from too much pressure by a faster or more talented team, then it is a question of ability. If the mistakes stem from a lack of focus, then it could be effort.
I guess mistakes don't answer the question easily after all. Obviously speed can be measured pretty well, did the Sharks lose races? Is that something that can be compensated for with skill? Yes, we know it can. We know that long passes can always beat a fast skater, as long as the passes get off in time. The mind-hand signal must travel faster than the legs can carry a body.
Will the Sharks answer any of these questions tonight? How will they cope with no morning skate and being compressed and decompressed by same day air travel? Will that get their minds off the confidence question (which is still the answer to everything, you can't know the true depth of the team until you clear that up), and help them play better? Or will it just frazzle their brains?
Finally, there's Ron Wilson's wins record as Sharks coach, the one that Todd McLellan tied last night. It is a fine accomplishment but one that you have to look at a little sideways. Is it friend or foe? Why is that the number of games the Sharks won with Wilson as coach? Is it because he didn't coach them for much longer? You can always find something to worry about if you look hard enough, but that one isn't very well hidden.
Another win tonight, tired or not, especially against Calgary, would go a little ways to calming concerned fans.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org