Sharks - 24 Hours from Low to High
I was there and I got that sinking feeling again. The first period between the San Jose Sharks and the Philadelphia Flyers felt eerily familiar: down 2 goals after a handful of fights and sloppy play by the boys in teal. The game started out exactly the same as the loss the night before to the Anaheim Ducks. I was fearful that, despite all the hype that I as uncle promote it, my nephew’s first game of the year at the Tank was going to be a losing effort. As many of you already know, the game ended up being one of the more exciting you’ll see in hockey - a come-from-behind, overtime victory by the home team.
“What Detroit does every day is carry themselves like champions,” McLellan said. “They make championship decisions. They practice like champions and they train after practice like champions. I want our players to understand that it has to be a daily process. You can’t pick and choose when you want to train like a champion. You have to do it now, later and after that.”
We all know recent history. After being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs two seasons ago all the talk was that the Sharks didn’t have what it takes to be a champion. Last season after struggling in the first round and finding themselves down 0-2 after two home losses, that same discussion arose again but included questions about the Sharks heart and character. An off-season overhaul of the team (or actually, more like a major renovation) was specifically put in place to address the intangibles that talent alone could not.
So here we were, Game 6 of the season, coming home after a bad loss playing ANOTHER team without a win, finding ourselves down an average of two goals the entire game. I felt like this game, as early in the season as it was, could be a turning point in the season. If the Sharks want to be champions in late May/early June they have to play like champions even in October. I didn’t say that, McLellan did.
When I say ‘turning point’ I don’t mean the entire season hinges on that one game. What I mean is there will be many ‘turning point’ situations throughout the season and the difference between the old Sharks and the New Hope Sharks is whether or not they can consistently overcome adversity and win. We know the Sharks can win regular season games, accumulate points, go on win streaks, blah blah blah. They’ve practiced that day in and day out throughout the entire Ron Wilson era. What the Sharks now need to practice is being champions - which means on a regular basis overcome any obstacle that stands between them and a victory. My hope is that the Anaheim game was an example of the old Sharks and the Philadelphia game is an example of the new Sharks.
All is not, however, perfect in Fin-land. My favorite stat proved true again last night, the Sharks out shot the Flyers 45-17. The bad news is of those 17 Flyer shots, 4 went in. The problem with the New Hope Sharks is that while they’re constantly attacking and crashing the net, one bad bounce and the opposition has an easy odd man rush the other way. Also the power play, at one point a 5-on-3 for a full 2 minutes, couldn’t produce. Although annoying and it will cost us a few games, those kinds of things can be fixed with with coaching and talent. And the bright side is those kind of things give us opportunities to practice that championship thing too.