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San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks: Redemption And Renewal

San Jose SharksThere was little doubt that Dan Boyle would try to redeem himself, the bigger question was whether or not he could do it. I’ve been told that hockey isn’t quite as structured as you might think, that action on the ice is more chaotic and reactionary than, say, the scripted plays of a football game. So it strikes me as remarkable that Boyle actually pulled it off ‘according to script’ and I hope that sent a message to the team that, despite the chaotic and unpredictable nature of hockey, you CAN make things happen if you have to.

You know, things like winning games you HAVE to have but can’t really say you HAVE to have. Like winning Game 4 to tie up the series and gain back home ice. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be 2-2 for the series. I don’t think the San Jose Sharks have been tied in a series for a few years now.

A lot has been made about the Sharks’ top line and their lack of production. The guys on NHL Home Ice pointed out before the playoffs started that the difference makers during the grind tend to be your lower lines and that someone is going to stand out as being the ‘hero’ (if you will) for your team. Because teams are going to throw their best defensive pair at your top offensive line the difference is usually that break out guy who no one expected to make a difference. Maybe Colorado’s best defensive lines just match up really well against Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. Maybe the fact that Colorado’s best defense is tied up working against the Sharks’ best offense is leaving the Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe and Devin Setoguchi line open to make the big plays. I wouldn’t judge the top line just yet, if the Sharks move on to further rounds the match-ups may change and it might be them that become the top producers.

In the mean time it looks like General Manager Doug Wilson’s upgrades are paying massive dividends. Scott Nichol and Many Malholtra are definitely adding energy to the team. The other difference is coming from Worcester. Last year the report was that Todd McLellan was not comfortable starting rookies, that’s why he played the team he had even though many of the Sharks were still nursing injuries. The kids from Worcester are certainly making the best of each shift they’re given and so far seem to be playing within their means. It’s all very exciting and very exhausting to watch.

And speaking of that ‘breakout guy’, I’m really leaning towards Doug Murray. Sure Nichol, Pavelski, Clowe and company are playing above and beyond, but you kind of expected that from them. Doug Murray on the other hand is quietly putting together a consistent body of work. During last night’s overtime period did you notice that Murray led two rushes into the offensive zone, the second of which included him taking on 3 Colorado skaters to open things up for Pavelski while shielding Craig Anderson from seeing the shot? Back in Game 1 the Sharks’ starting defensive pair was Boyle and Murray. Last year Murray was in the third defensive pairing. We all knew Murray was an immovable force, but maybe they saw something else in him beyond his physical presence. Remember that defenseman Niclas Wallin was brought in partly because he has 3 game-winning goals in the playoffs (and none in the regular season).

On another note, I find it interesting that NHL tickets for the Sharks are going for more than tickets for the Avalanche. Given the history of the Avalanche franchise with the NHL I would expect the opposite - but maybe we’re just hungrier to see a championship than they are.

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4 comments for “San Jose Sharks: Redemption And Renewal”

  1. The price of the playoff tickets might have something to do with the fact that the Avs were last in the league last year and they weren’t expecting to make it to the playoffs. Or not. I don’t know.
    I agree with the statement that the match-ups might be there for Colorado against the HTML and that this might be what is opening up some opportunities for The Playmaker and his merry linemates, Clowe and Setoguchi, but I think that the HTML has to get on the scoreboard in this series, if only to give them the confidence they need to open that can o whupp ass.

    The Playmaker and co are keeping us in this series, and may end being the biggest reason we win this series, but we cannot expect them to win the series after this on their own. They need some help from the big boys, who need to score just one to show everyone that yes, they can in fact score a goal in the playoffs. When they finally get their first one, they will breathe a sigh of relief and really start going to town on whatever goalie they face.

    I like the idea of splitting them up, and seeing if they can get going on another line. Each of them are so talented that, in theory, they could be spread across lines 1,3,and 4 (We leave the Playmakers alone lest we disrupt their chemistry and ruin the one thing that has been excellent in this series) thereby forcing the other team to adapt to a star on every line.

    But more than that, the HTML seem to get stuck in a rut. They know each other well, and they can play perfectly together, but sometimes they don’t seem to be able to adapt their way of playing if it doesn’t happen to be working. They have difficulty “trying something new,” which only makes sense since what they do usually works and “Don’t fix what ain’t broke,” but at this moment in time, while it may not be broke there is definitely something wrong with it (and I don’t count Heater’s injury, though I am sure it is not helping). Splitting up the big line will give other players a chance to make something happen with Heatley, Marleau, or Thornton.
    New looks, not only for the defensive squads they would face, but also for the Sharks themselves.

    I will stop here now, as this comment just got way out of control and is starting to look like a blog entry. Sorry.

    Posted by unrulytravllerNo Gravatar | April 22, 2010, 5:13 am
  2. Don’t worry - keep writing. It’s the playoffs and for once we Sharks fans actually have something worth while to talk about!

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | April 22, 2010, 9:55 am
  3. Here are the line combinations from the morning skate per the Merc:

    This could be the night Todd McLellan splits up his big three at the start of the game .

    For the line rushes at the morning skate, McLellan had Torrey Mitchell alongside Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, with Dany Heatley skating with Manny Malhotra and Logan Couture.

    Those were the combinations at times in the third period and overtime of Game 4 in Denver. In his post-game comments Tuesday, McLellan mentioned that Heatley wasn’t going at full-speed yet after sitting out the previous contest with a lower body injury and the idea was to spread the speed throughout the lineup.


    Posted by FC SharksfanNo Gravatar | April 22, 2010, 2:22 pm
  4. Remember when I said I was going to refer to Pavs as The Playmaker? Well, tonight was the perfect example of why the nickname is so fitting. Two goals, including yet another game winner, plus an assist. That’s a three point game and the conclusion of a tremendous leadership effort to carry the team on his back in the first round. So for that, let me be the first to say, “I am forever in your debt, Mr. Playmaker. Thank you for continuing to provide me a reason to watch the mother of all sports–hockey. GO SHARKS!

    Posted by unrulytravllerNo Gravatar | April 24, 2010, 9:39 pm

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