San Jose Sharks: When Game 3 Is More Important Than Game 4?
Now that the distractions of the Joe Thornton contract extension and home opener loss have subsided, I realized that there was an actual hockey game played at home and we did have some thoughts on what we were seeing as the game unfolded.
First we noticed just how good Torrey Mitchell looked. He finally looks completely recovered from his string of injuries and was absolutely flying again. Ryane Clowe also looked far better at the start of this season than he did to start last season. Of course the ‘core’ of the Sharks team looked just like they always do, so put it all together and the team looks just fine moving forward. With one exception. Devin Setoguchi still seemed to be chasing the puck for most of the game and I can’t help but think his situation feels eerily familiar - a la the rise and fall of Jonathan Cheechoo. I don’t think we’re there yet and I hope we never get there but the fact that the Sharks didn’t sign him to a longer term deal (than the one year he got) raises some concern for me. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson usually knows what he’s doing so keeping Setoguchi on a ’short leash’ may be an indicator that they’re not completely sold on him yet.
In 1992, when the San Francisco 49ers traded Charles Haley to the Dallas Cowboys, the story goes that Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to congratulate him on winning the (next) Super Bowl. Sure enough the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl the next year - Haley’s first year with the Cowboys. Despite his ‘personality’ issues, Haley’s talents were the missing piece that got the Cowboys over that metaphorical sports ‘hump’.
unrulytraveller’s comments regarding Annti Niemi not withstanding, three of the four goals scored against the Sharks during the home opener came during defensive breakdowns. There was a 3-on-2 scramble in front of the net, the short handed goal and the 3-on-1 break away. The talk for the last year and a half has been the suspicious nature of the Sharks defense. Despite the yet unresolved argument about our upgrade or lack of upgrade at goaltender, the Sharks certainly didn’t add any ’skating’ defense during free agency. Are the defensive failings predicted for last season materializing this season? Are we gambling too much on rookies, Kent Huskins and Niclas Wallin? Or are we one Charles Haley away from solidifying the defensive corp? Remember 3 seasons ago the knock against the Sharks was that they lacked that shot from the blue line and Rob Blake was brought in to fill that role. His effectiveness in that role aside, are we now once again without that ‘outside’ threat? We have many questions with so few answers - what else is new?!
Tonight the San Francisco Giants go up against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, right up against the Sharks’ 4th game of the season. Unfortunately I have a previous commitment so I won’t be in front of a TV for any of it. But it’ll either be a good night (2-0), a bad night (0-2) or a split (1-1). If it’s going to be a split I’d rather have the Giants get the win.