Wednesday, December 05, 2007

F You Ducks, and Thank You Stars

Although all the mystery was gone, the Ducks tried to do it up nice, and announced Scott Niedermayer is coming back. I was shocked. Shocked! The real question is, how long has this been planned? I wouldn't doubt this was the whole idea back before the season started. The Ducks save a bit on salary, Scott gets to miss some of the drudgery of the regular season, and they get to stage a nice dog and pony show once the Ducks struggle a bit. Amazingly, Nieds will be back just in time for the week when they play the Sharks three times. How about that.

In the meantime, the Sharks again housed the Stars in big D and won 3-2. Funny how we're 3-1 against the Stars, the division leader, but 1-2 against the Kings, the division goat. I refrained from writing a game recap post after the Colorado game, mostly because I was lazy, but also because I was pretty frustrated with the Sharks play in the second half of the game. I thought I was seeing things, because I saw quotes from Ron Wilson in the paper the next day about how the Sharks played better, and did a good job late. I couldn't disagree more.

The Sharks went into a shell once they gained the lead in the Avalanche game, and didn't come out for 30 minutes. They'd chip it out to center, barely forecheck, and wait for the Avs to gain the zone, where they would push them to the outside, and chip to center again after 45 seconds or so of nail-biting. They didn't even try generate scoring chances. Maybe that's the kind of hockey you're supposed to play on the road, but I thought the Sharks were playing with fire. They were leaving counterattack chances on the table, and giving Hejduk, Stasny, and company way to much time to create.

The opposite happened tonight with the Stars. The Sharks had a 2-1 lead going into the third period, and before the ink was dry from the columnists making notes on Modano's game-tying goal, the Sharks were skating hard again. I didn't even have time to bitch and complain about the Sharks playing for the tie. They drew penalties, kept the Stars deep, and Joe scored on a pretty Michalek feed to put the Sharks up 3-2. I braced myself again for the prevent defense, and I didn't see it. Instead of letting Zubov jump into the play, the Sharks pressed the pace, keeping the Stars' D honest. More scoring chances followed, and the Sharks won 3-2 going away.

Joe has now scored or assisted on 137% of the Sharks goals this season, his GAA is 1.02, his save percentage .989, and his plus-minus requires exponents. He's the early leader for the Hart, Vezina, Ross, Masterson, Calder, and Heisman trophies. I mean seriously, is there anything this crazy bastard can't do?


Nick said...

Being that I'm in Rome I don't have the luxury of watching the games myself and take what you say about their on ice performance seriously. But I also would like to point out that the sharks are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and those are pretty good numbers.

Is there any chance that sharks fans have just gotten so used to complaining this year that we're blinding ourselves to the turn around we've all been waiting for?

Mike said...

It's an important point, and thanks for making it. At the end of the day, wins and losses are really all that matter, though most of the wins in that stretch came against inferior opposition. After the Sharks mediocre start, it's easy to level a critical eye at everything they do. The stretch between now and Christmas will be very interesting to watch, with 3 games against the Ducks with SN, the Wild, the Canucks, and Dallas again. That's playoff competition, and the bar the Sharks should be measuring themselves against.