Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thus Spoketh Pimpathustra

“In the midst of chaos, 

there is also opportunity” 

-Sun Tzu

If you know hockey, which is sort of implied since you are reading this, then you know these two guys above are : Joe "Fatbutt" Thornton and Patrick "Gutless" Marleau. The two faces of the Sharks franchise, the former and the current (for now) captain, these two have been the only constants through all the playoff disappointments in the past 9 seasons, since the mini "rebuild" that brought Joe Thornton to the Sharks. 
Ever since these two have been together, they have been considered "the backbone" of the Sharks. Every year since these two have been together, the Sharks thought they were " a tweak or two" away from winning the holly grail. So, since that yea,r every year "lesser" players have come and gone, and some even left AND came back, assistant coaches and head coaches have been fired and hired, and many other teams have won lord Stanley's cup, but these two went untouched despite the repeated deplorable performances and broken hearts they left behind.
But then came the Year of the Lord 2014, when the Sharks have sunk to the lowest levels of playoff embarrassment in their entire existence, and their fearless and perfectly tanned leader , Doug Wilson, declared war on the country club environment  ... himself put in place so efficiently  and fought so hard to maintain. He event went as far as mentioning the word "rebuild" a time or two, and admitted to the possibility of the Sharks needing to take " a step back" before becoming the formidable force that will win everything forever. Naturally, everybody assumes he talks about his, possibly former, protegees, so,  numerous "improvement scenarios" have popped all over the place,  scenarios that would have the Sharks ship those two out of San Jose, and,  naturally, some  people have asked : " what would the Pimp do".
Well I have long since held belief the Sharks org is rotten to the core so my changes are a bit deeper than expelling the losing duo so there it goes:

I would have started with firing the GM and the head coach (along with his ball boy) but mr Plattner decided against that so I am not going to waste bits on it.


 # 1 on the "To Do" list: Bolster the scouting corps both minor and pro. 
That means Burke and Ferguson have got to go along with most of their men. The sharks need to go back to scouting in Europe and expand their radar to include more teams in more of the minor leagues of the frozen north.  I would try to pry Finley from Detroit and make him the scouting boss and bring his own people on board , maybe he can get Vari to create a European scouting group for the Sharks. The Sharks need to start scouting and drafting size, skating and hands before character and family oriented values. At the draft, for the next few years, i want to hear of the Sharks draftees that are big and fast with  amazing snap shot but  need some work on their anger management , rather than what good kids their were and how close they are to their moms. 

#2 Development. 
It is no secret the Sharks development team is not a star churning machine. For the most part it seems the Sharks youth that succeed, do so after they were wiped clean of what they've learned under Sommer, who tends to be a great developer of fringe third line grinders and at most second pairing D-men. On top of that he has never really made a good push to win the Calder cup. while somehow managing to be the longest tenure coach in AHL with a single team. I guess that is a record of sorts a record that reflects the failures of the big club. Regardless, he and most of his staff, possibly including Schwab who has not impressed as a teacher for the young Sharks goalies (the demise of a hugely talented kid like Sateri under his direct watch speaks volumes). My coaching choice would be prying rob Zettler from the Crunch. it's a pipe dream because he would need a lot of convincing so why not give the helm to a young blood like Knoblauch . Also, as goaltending coach in the minors they could get Verner from the Petes, he's relatively young and hungry. Either way they have to completely turn the development program around

#3 Reinforce the coaching. 
Yes, I know , the Todd is here to stay, for another year at least but he needs help. Paper boy is not what this team needs and Todd needs help with in game adjusting and ice-time distribution.  He also needs help with the goaltending decisions. I don;t care if Wayne Thomas stays or goes as long as he is relieved of his duties involving the goaltending. He is and always was terrible. Let this go, Mr Thomas and bring someone competent to take charge of the goalies , both in scouting. coaching etc. There are many names out there but I am not sure the ones I like are available. I will revisit this particular subject soon, I hope, but the Sharks need a top notch goaltending coach ... badly 

#4 Goaltending itself.
Those who know me also know I was never a fan of Niemi. Yes he has some strengths and, overall, he is not a awful goalie  (as in" I have seen worse in NHL)  but he never struck me as the sort of goalie to shoulder a team when it needs it. And I absolutely hate his style and his basic technical holes. Long story short , I never wanted him as a Shark and I will not cry when he is gone, the sooner the better. Now he has one year left in his contract so he might not be moved but the Sharks should not wait for the "best possible deal" to move him, but rather just get him out the door whenever a decent deal shows up. the reasoning behind it goes like this: I could not bear to watch him another season in teal :). 
I kid I kid but if they actually do go the rebuild way then he could be used as a piece of a trade with one of the "Big Two" to bring a young goalie with potential back, among other things. Some people are talking about bringing Rinne from Nashville. I would say a loud YES to that, if he is fully healed .. but if he is healed then why would the  Preds let him go?  The only reason I can think of is Money, as they have always operated under a budget tighter than other teams. So yes if a deal can be worked out, sure, why not Rinne. But I would rather think of a young talent, like Vasilevski, for example. Yzerman would love to get his hands on either Marleau or Thornton and if a deal with Tampa is to be made, Vasilevski should be one of the pieces coming back. 
And let's make this clear, Stalock is not the future of the Sharks net and the deal he just signed is stupid. If he is to be backup another year he is about 500K overpaid next year but if they think of him as the potential #1 then two years is too short of a contract as my friend Nola from the Sharks board correctly pointed out. 

#5 Defense Defense Defense
 The Sharks need it. They needs speed and mobility, they need size , they need smarts. With Burns moving back to D, according to the fearless GM, there will be some size added, and some offensive potential , but I am not so sure about defensive smarts. Star defensemen are hard to find and elite ones are near impossible but that is what the sharks need to get and one of the big Two should be used as the centerpiece of a trade that would bring such a defenseman to the Sharks. I could make a few suggestions but I really have no idea why would the   respective teams trade the players I have in mind and I do not want to give you , reader, more reasons to ridicule me, so I will not give names but I re-iterate the need for a top end D-man, preferably young.

#6 Attitude. 
This one speaks for itself and this one clearly says both "leaders" , the only two who were there for all the Sharks failure of the last decade, need to go. they might not go at the same time but within the next year they both have to go. As long as both or even just one of them is still around, the Sharks will not be able to find a different identity, their "new leaders" will not be able to impose their leadership because these two are too big and imposing figures to allow for the change to happen.  If i were to pick one to go first I would choose Marleau because keeping Thornton longer would give them more depth at center and I am a very big on that.
but, again, they both need to go and , along with Niemi and by possibly dispatching the likes of Stuart, the Sharks could improve their goaltending and defense significantly while getting some potential upfront as well. Assuming Doug doesn't botches the trades .. which is entirely possible .. or some would say a certainty. 

So there you have it  .. this is what I would do. Or part of it. 

Of course Doug thought better nd started his rebuild by ... letting the color commentator go. Way to go mr Wilson, you have your priorities straight.

That being said, I wish you all the best Mr Remenda. while I did not agree with you on many occasions, you have been part of my "Sharks family " for longer than I can remember. Thank you for the good times as well as making the best out of the not so good ones, and all the drinking games your, quite colorful, commentating has generated. Despite all the vitriol I threw at your "teal colored" opinions, you were entertaining and one of the best at it . Thank you very much and all the best to you and your family!

PS .. someone proofread this for me hahaha

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Payback ... is a loving mistress

The Time Has Come

 ... for me to assume the, oh so familiar, "I am sorry" stance for not keeping my word about this blog. 
I had all the good intentions but ... you know the drill.

However, Playoffs hockey is back, so I am taking this opportunity to do two things : do a postmortem to the regular season, and lay down the expectations for the playoffs.
For the most part, the Sharks have had a decent season by almost any standards. They overcame a series of long term injuries while finishing in 6th place in the league.
However, as usual, the season showed some weaknesses. Some of them we already know or expected : spottiness in performance level among their "leaders", an alarming weakening of Niemi's goaltending, a rather pathetic Power Play, but I have spotted, more often than before, a rather weak match-up game played by the coach. 
More than that I have seen him being completely baffled by the opposition and at a total loss on what to do about it. And there there is a goalie game which the coach is still completely lost in and the rather weird reward/punishment system that may have cost the Sharks a few points down the road.
I am hoping the coach will get a grip on all that for the upcoming series against the LA Kings, because we all know what Sutter and his goons will bring with them in the series and if coach  Mclellan doesn't get his ducks in order , the Sharks fans will wonder WTH happened in a little over a week from tomorrow.
I will not give grades for the players performance during the season but I will name a few that impressed and a few that left me wanting for more:
Impressed by : virtually all rookies plus Vlasic Pavelski  and Sheppard 
Performed more or less as expected : Burns, Marleau, Hannan, Braun, Havlat ( considering what he went through)
Disappointed, more or less, by everybody else but with emphasis on  Thornton ( drop off in goals scored, even though it was never his strength, is not excusable, plus I questioned his efforts too many nights),  Niemi (numbers paint most of the picture but not all of it. His overall game has changed and not for the better and those who read my blog in the past already know I never liked his game), Couture ( he was spottier than Marleau ), Stuart ( maybe i expected waay to much of him) and Irwin ( the guy just doesn't improve fast enough).

With that out of the way, let's talk about the series that starts tomorrow.
i need to address the elephant in the room : who should start in net. The only logical answer is : the starter, Niemi. Yes I am not a fan and yes I have always supported the rookies, but if this team is to have a chance at challenging for the Cup they need the starter because it is more likely Niemi does a repeat job of being average enough to backstop the Sharks to a Cup the way he did  for Chicago, than it is for Stalock to take the world by storm and shock everybody with a playoffs for the ages.. 
Not only that, but Niemi is better suited for the type of game LA will bring. sure, there is the argument that Stalock is not a known commodity to the  opposition, being a rookie and all, and that his puck handling can help the D and even the offense but I have a sneaky suspicion he won't have the chance to do that much. Not only that, but Sutter's strategy will not change no  matter who is in net and they are suffocating enough not to be afraid of a couple long goalie passes here and there.
So start Niemi and if he blows it up in the first game you go to the rookie and say : "you want a starting job next year: get me this win".

Goaltending has an enormous importance in this series but so does physicality. In this world of increased frowning upon even the world "physicality", let alone the actual implementation of it in the game, the Kings will have it and will dish it out every chance they have.  Many so called "pacifist hockey experts" say that you beat a team like that with "skill" and "finesse" and a bunch of other things pulled out of the PETA school of thought. The reality is, it is a long series and if you let the Kings beat up on your from the get go , they will have you down and out long before your skill can reign supreme. Because, you see, the Kings are quite skilled themselves. 
So to beat them you have to be close to matching them in the body blow department. And by that I don't mean run around like idiots trying to deliver ridiculous hits that can lead to injuries and suspensions. No, what I do mean is finish your checks, be hard on the stick and harder on the skates. Push them before they push you and you might have a chance to tone them down.

Other than that, the Sharks need the leaders to lead when necessary not when they feel like it ( aka it doesn't matter if Marleau scores a hat trick in a 6-1 blowout if he doesn't get squat in a 1-0 loss in game 7) the rookies need to push themselves beyond any level they have pushed to during the regular season, Stalock needs to be ready to step in and save the day if asked to do so, Havlat needs to stay healthy and show everybody he can still be a factor and Torres need to be allowed to play his game.
If all that happens, and they can keep it u for more than two series, the Sharks get their payback and win this series and can have a good chance at, FINALLY at least play in the finals.
And Win It ALL

Because, as you will see in the included picture, I did pick them to win .

That is it for today but I hope I will write something after every game the Sharks play and/or whenever I get the chance to talk about the other series.

Have a great Stanley Cup Playoffs everybody and GO SHARKS!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great Expectations?

How much is too much ... or not enough?

First, I would like to , yet again, apologize for not writing anything for so long.
 Apparently, while I wasn't looking some of you emailed me asking for more of my tirades. Life and ... well many excuses, are at fault for that.
I will try to get better.

Now, onto business:

The Sharks have started on a roll. They destroyed opposition left, right and sideways, kids were playing well, the fans lexicon got enriched with the acquisition of the term "Hertled", beer flowed at the tank and everybody was happy.

And then they weren't. Because lately the team has been playing sub-par at first, then really bad and more recently, completely shitty. Their defensive game has been shot to hell, the Sloth is not stopping much (unless you listen to Drew who thinks Sharks goalies are on the top of the world), their special teams are especially bad and they are not scoring with the same ease they used to. And stopped scoring altogether in the shootouts.

But this time I do not want to dissect their game. Nothing I would say would be really new. They have been through this and , invariably, it's almost the same story every time, players not executing, Coach is stubborn and the GM is ... golfing I would guess.

No, this time i want to talk about us, fans .. and what we feel, what we expect , what we should allow ourselves to hope, etc.
See I spend a lot of time on the Sharks board ( http://fans.sharks.nhl.com ). It's a neat place to kill some time, if you know some hockey, posses a sense of humor and have a tough skin. It is not a place for everybody but those who fit in, love it.
On that forum we have a weird cat, a guy who fancy himself a lord of sorts. We, lovingly (I had to add that so I don't be accused of libel) call him a queen.
I have had a heated exchange with him that made me thinking. Are people really that stupid?
It all happened after the Sharks game against Winnipeg. It was an ugly game filled with mistakes, missed assignments, poor work ethic and ultimately, despite an early fortuitous lead, a horrible choke, crash and loss by the Sharks.
This dude, however, comes with a serene post stating how much he enjoyed the game . When challenged he comes back with a few gems I would like to share here.
His general idea is the Sharks are a mediocre team, and his reasoning seems to start and end with this

 ... This team has no NHL superstars ...

  Those are his own words. He goes from the premise that Joe Thornton is washed out, Patrick Marleau is a total failure, Couture doesn't exist and so on. And in a way he is right, none of those are the few young and fresh superstars of today. But then Tampa has one of the biggest , Washington has a couple and so on. How did that help them so far? And let's look at production this year:
 Pavelski is no superstar but he has the same amount of points as Datsyuk, a guy who is consistently talked of as one of if not the best overall player in the world. Couture is one point behind and Marleau is only two, despite having a poor season so far and is on par with the Superstars that are Kane and Toews. And Joe Fatbutt is still being double matched most of the time and still the go to guy when the Sharks need a spark.
So yes .. The Sharks do not have Stamkos or Ovechkin .. but is that necessary? Overall the Sharks  have five forwards among the top 30 in points in the league right now. More than any other team present in that top 30.
Yet somehow this "Lord" who wears sandals at games, tries to tell me that :

  SJ is a middle of the pack NHL team
 Technically speaking, they are 5th in points in the league right now, so off the bat, according to current numbers, this guys is wrong.
He then goes on sand spurts this gem
They’re not underachieveing because they’re not collectively that good to begin with

Sooo what he is saying is the Sharks over-achieved to start the season and are now closer to their actual value.
 And here starts the debate. Is he right? Are the Sharks a team that should consider a loss to a lowly Winnipeg Jets team coming from behind?
Looking at the numbers we will see that the Sharks overall numbers for this season and last season and the season before, are not matching at all what happened in Winnipeg and the few games before.
Shots for, shots against, goals for, goals against , turnover ratio etc, nothing indicates that the Sharks have played at their "middle of the pack" norm, according to statistics. ( if anybody is interested in seeing numbers , let me know and I will post them, but there's too many to go over right now)
More than that, even to a non-astute viewer, it was clear in the past few games the Sharks are playing well bellow their usual level.Their passing is sub-par, the entries in the zone are chaotic, backchecks are horrible, their zone D is failing at the cracks because of missed assignments and bad reads .. and their goalie is not stopping much. That is supposed to be "normal" according to the Lord of brainfart, yet somehow for 10 games or so, that was not the case. Was that just pure luck? Apart for a couple of games it did not look like it.
And then we get to the core of what  was trying to build up to
 The over-expectations of how SJ stacks up against the other 29 teams I think is ridiculous.  It may explain why there's such deep disappointment after games in here lately. 
That quote along with the previous quotes and some other things that have been said and that I will leave them in the forum, points to a defeatist attitude and an expectation of fans to share such attitude.
Am I wrong? What should the expectations of the fans be? Should the fans prepare every season , and every game, for total failure out of fear of disappointment, even though their team showed signs that they could be an actual contender.
Should they be expecting and be content with eternal failure?
Should they give up on hopes and dreams because one madman says so?
What do you think, fans, and not just of the Sharks?
The alternative is to

Just watch the flow of great NHL hockey
even though it was far from great recently. The kind of flow seen from the Sharks recently is more suited to the beer leagues the Lord of sandals drunkenly waddles on skates every now and then, not on NHL ice.

So I ask again, is the Lord clueless, facetious and delusional or should we all embrace defeat, expect the worst and absently and dumbly cheer for every play that is not totally atrocious?

Let me know.

PS. And as usual I am sorry for any typos, grammar mistakes and so on.
If I keep writing these I will proofread them eventually :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We Have Liftoff !

And there will be blood

A new hockey season is upon NHL fans everywhere, young and old, hardcore and bandwagonner, drunk and sober. 
And it came with a bang. Just ask George Parros's head. I heard it all the way to the 24 hr Fitness on Santa Teresa.
He'll be fine. And so will be the season
one can hope.
Because the first day was ...
... well, to exemplify, let's look at my takes from the first day of hockey in the 2013/1014 NHL season.

1) Their Media streaming sucks. To be more exact, CI for mobile. It blew last night. Kept cutting off every 15-30 seconds and then it was taking up to a minute to fill it's buffers and play again.
Sure, you, the reader will say: "meh it's your phone or your signal sucked".
So , since I am a geek, I am going to beak it down for you:
The phone is a Galaxy S4.  Quad core 1.9Ghz proc, 2 G's of RAM, customized Android, all bloat removed, only 11 essential background processes enabled (your average off the shelf Android fun runs three times that or more) 
So it's not the phone.
The signal, according to Android, was : -83 dBm, 14 asu. That is basically 5 full bars with another to spare.
Speedtest showed 6.4 Mbps. A quick ping of the servers the app seemed to get the stream from showed a return time of 5.8ms and further testing showed a ridiculously low packet loss. Not to mention that HD Veetle and Netflix worked flawlessly.
So it wasn't the signal. It was their app/service. And it is a handsomely paid service, so fix it you moronic clouts. BTW if any of the NHL monkeys reads this, I have logs from last night if you need proof.

2) Montreal blows. Last season it was a fluke and if the first game is an indication, they will go back to their old suckee ways. They deserve it anyway since PKS was awarded the Norris. That is supposed to be awarded to the best all around defenseman, not the one that scores most points. Sure it is not his fault the Professional Hockey Writers' Association is a collection of moronic sensationalist media types, but Karma is a beoatch and MTL deserves some payback . 
I actually did like the game( or what I was able to see of it, no thanks to NHL) but it would have been a much better game if half of both MTL and TO squads suffered some form of groin injuries inflicted by a stout foot planted in the nether regions. Yes I like both that much :)

3) If Grabovski punches points at a quarter of the clip he did last night he will make the TO brass look like fools. Not that they are not already, but further proof is always welcome :) .The Caps though, I don't know, they looked good at times but horrendous some other times. They are in for a long season. Goaltending is still shaky and i am not sure they can hold defensively without a solid performance in goal. 

4) The Oilers are still a headless collection of young and dumb but extremely talented , and stupid, players. That ragtag collection of testosterone and testicles still waiting to drop can't seem to grasp the concept of total effort and doing your absolute best or stepping up or what have you. They seem to be so delighted about some good individual play they had made and get too caught on in the monent, only to mess up two three times a few seconds later. 
This is NOT the NBA or NFL. Get over yourselves and get back to work.
Or change the sport if you like to act like buffoons.

That is it for today. I will try to do this at least once a week this season.

Enjoy the season, fools!
And drop a line ... it doesn't bite.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

We'll Get Them Next Time , Boys!

Is what the Sharks possibly told each-other after they pooped their collective pants in game 7.
It's what athletes do, even when they don't necessarily believe it, to try to lessen the pain of defeat, the crippling burning of failure that should burn the inside of any and all losers (although with the core of this team it's quite possible they have become numb to said pain .. but now I'm speculating).
It's the off-season, teams are gearing up for next "year", they trim fat, dump useless ballast and reload with fresh and energizing talent in their quest for the ultimate prize. 

And so do the Sharks!

Or do they?
Well let's see at what they have done so far.
Draft day. This is a day when teams line up and pick the future stars of hockey from a pull of youth. It's a day when a team's scouting personnel's keen eyes get their day of glory and a day when a team's GM and his staff get to show their vision.
It is also a day when, historically speaking, Mr Wilson has gotten ... mixed results, shall we say. Many years of dumping picks for band-aids or failed experiments or purely wasting them to jump up a few spots to get a guy they would have gotten anyway, while jumping over better prospects in the process, have left the Sharks cupboard VERY bare when it comes to top end or even mid-range talent. Or any talent if you really want to be honest. 
But no matter the past, the future is looking at us in the eyes, and the Sharks start the day with a lot of picks and with their lessons learned.
That is why the Sharks first move is:  trade one of their 2nd rounds picks for Tyler Kennedy's rights. So what, you say, but the guy was a decent producer at one point, for the Pens. Won a cup with them and all that jazz. Yea but see, in the mean time his production dropped and suffered a concussion that sort of neutered him to an extent. And don't forget who he played with in  Penguin land. And he was due a contract as well. And that he was a healthy scratch at length during the playoffs. The Sharks had guys on the team that pretty much emulated his numbers of late. Why the need for ? .. oh never mind let's move on, the Shark's will pick in 15 more minutes. 
Except they didn't because they just traded up TWO SPOTS giving up ANOTHER 2nd round pick to "get their guy", Mirco Mueller.  All respects to Mirco and his mobility on defense but that trade makes him a lot more "valuable" than the top 3 draft picks since they were worth only one first round pick , compared to our Mr Mueller who is now forever known as the kid worth two picks : a 1st and a 2nd. You better come in, play right away and be fantastic at it awhile score 20+ goals this season because, kid, that's what Doug thinks you're worth. Now, some will say : Wilson did it because CBJ were going to pick Mueller. Ok so? there were other players in the draft, some of them very promising  natural Left Wingers .. you know, the kind the Sharks sorely need . And then you trade up and you don't get Mantha who is a beast of a kid and if developed right could have a better impact than some of not all the top 5 picks? 
But the point is, another wasted pick. All of a sudden, the multitude of options at 2nd round, the possibility to do a little extra restocking went pretty much out the window.
Now truth be said I do like some of the Sharks later picks but there were two more players on that 2nd round list that could have been in the Sharks development camp this summer/fall.
So , yet again, Doug Wilson sticks to his reckless and, some would say, ruinous" habits of wasting chances. Because that is what the draft is: a process in which you stock up on chances.  Some people like to give themselves as many chances as possible, as little as they are. Not Doug Wilson, he bets all his money on 33 black, all the time.
That is ok, some would say. Doug will get them through free agency. 
Okidoky, let's move on to that. But first, there is a trade. T.J Galiardi has been traded to the Calgary Flames for a 4th round pick. In 2015. That really happened.
I understand that getting Kennedy might have made T.J. expendable, but ... giving up a 2nd round pick in a year with a good and deep draft class for someone you could probably have had on the open market , while basically dumping a guy who , by basic numbers, is really not worse, especially when you take in consideration, again, who Kennedy played with.
But what is done is done, free agency starts and:
 Greiss signs with Phoenix. No real surprise there, the Sharks have handled this guy absolutely horrific. They promised him many things, delivered him none, they left him without a goalie coach at a time when he really needed one, they shipped him to Sweetieland for a season so they can have their "Battle of the 1A and 1B Finnish goalies" in net, and that right after the whole summer they told him he's actually going to do battle with Nitty for the #1 spot. But Doug went and got the Sloth instead and buried Greiss on a team with horrible D. 
I am sad and glad at the same time. Grease Lightning ( as fans have taken to calling him) has now a new, possibly last, chance. He's going to work with a real goalie coach and could fix his issues and actually become a decent backup goalie in the NHL for years to come. The chance is small, as he's going to play behind Mike Smith who has been good in the last two years so not much playing time is going to be given to Greiss .. but who knows. Best of luck to you!
And then the Sharks go on and break the bank on .. absolutely nobody. They made the signing of Couture official, they did sign Kennedy, they kept Hannan for one more year and, of course, they signed Stalock the Saviour. And again they play the friggin slimy political games they did before, they announce there will be a "battle" between Stalock and Sateri on who is going to play with the big boys and who stays in Woostah. No they are not, you know damn well you'll give the job to Stalock, Wilson, why the lies? Stop acting so friggin "corporate" ... it doesn't suit you. And maybe that is what is needed, since Stalock will not see much playing time while Sateri will have a chance to get better as the actual starter in Woostah.
Except he probably won't ... he'll probably get worse ... since he's working with such a great goalie coach. 
This team, a team that once was a good goalie farm, is not a complete mess in goal. There is no real goalie coach with the big club( Wayne Thomas was/is/will always be clueless, besides he's too busty being a suit)  while in Woostah they have a guy that, judging by his results, really isn't very good, while their drafting of goalies has died. The Sharks goalie program died with the late Warren Strelow. What a shame!
Probably the most exciting news of the off-season, so far, is the announcement that Thomas Hertl will come to play hockey in North America. the Sharks org and fans alike can't wait what this kid is capable of. The Sharks seem to have opened up a spot for him, and they are banking on him coming in and making a difference.
Except this kid never played on an NHL rink. Or against the best hockey players in the world. He has seen success , it's true, but in a rather, inferior league where the speed of the game is .. well slower, and the checking is not really hard. He has found success by finding time and space on the ice. The kind of time and space he will surely have a lot less of in NHL. How will his game translate? Nobody knows but to assume it will be a smooth transition is very very optimistic. And then there is his skating. He has worked on it since he was drafted, but it is lacking still. He will have to get on that if said game translation is to be made smooth.
So there are hurdles with this kid but everybody and their dog is looking forward to seeing what will come out of him. and we all hope he'll have an instant impact and make the Crosby's of the world look like fools :) hehehehe

But WAIT .. STOP THE PRESSES .. the Sharks have signed their own product, a legend in becoming and a long time fan favorite, Rob Davison.

who has played in Europe most recently\
and not very good at that

and it's a two way contract


And there you have it. Up till now, it looks like the Sharks plan on addressing their issues ( scoring drought from top to bottom, slowness, predictability, immobility, depth and so on) so evident at times in the playoffs, with question marks like Kennedy and Hertl, while their core is getting older and slower and their production is diminishing rapidly. YEEEEEEY in Dougie we trust!

As fans, we can all hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Because , as of right now my prediction for next season : Second round, nice knowing you.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Die With Your (Skates) On

That seems like the logical way to go
'Cause if you're gonna die...

The long delayed, awaited, or dreaded, or completely unwanted blog in which yours truly puts a fork in them.

So ... did the Sharks keep their boots on?

A quick and dirty analysis would say: Yes.
The series went 7 games, it featured a couple overtimes, and no game was a blowout ( 5 of 7 were 1 goal games), home team won all games and in many of the stats the Sharks actually did better than the Kings.
On paper and in the minds of many stat freaks, all is well, the Sharks hang on to their boots until there was nothing left.
Unless you take a little deeper look.
And you start with: the beginning.  
Game 1, Sharks are the better team , by many standard, for most of the game BUT, they break down , to a man at the end of 1st giving up a soft goal by all standards. And then another one midway through second. 
They followed that like any championship type team would .. by scoring three unanswered goals and win ... mmmmnno,  actually they panicked, they started mailing in passes, forcing the issue along
 the boards and shooting a lot of low quality stuff without crashing the net. Yes, they dominated all stats but one, yes Niemi held the fort in the 3rd (giving them a chance as some optimists like to put it) after wetting his goalie cup in the 1st and second .. but the end result : LOSS.
Fans say "They should have won that" but you really "should" not win anything that .. you don't win. Period.
And then there was "the hit" the one hit that resulted in the league disgracing themselves with a ridiculous suspension and then an even more idiotic "signal sending" fine to the GM who defended his guy. That suspension was yet another testament to Shanny's legacy ( I really hope he's gone in the fall) of inconsistency and bias. The only consistent thing about Shanny and his bureau of idiots is the frequency with which they got things wrong.

Game 2,  
well this one was a doozy. If not for the epic collapse of the Boston Bruins in game 6 of the finals, this would have been the absolute most embarrassing loss for any team in the playoffs this year.  It still is an nasty one to stomach and a staple of what the Sharks are when push comes to shove. 
Game starts furious and infuriatingly Niemi let's in a goal which I consider soft. even strength, early in the 1st. No worries, plenty of hockey to play, let's get back to work ... sharks start taking back the game but then promptly give up a PP goal in the second. Wash, rinse, get back at it, Sharks start to take control of the game and don't you know Marleau and Stuart pull a couple of theatrical heroics and we're tied at the end of 2nd with the momentum swinging in Sharks favor. to prove that point Vlasic scores one to put the Sharks ahead. with the game under control we're slowly heading to the end of the 3rd , and the game .. when disaster strikes. First, a ridiculous penalty call on Stuart .. ridiculous mostly because the zebras let that sort of stuff go earlier in the game. then there was the highly debated delay of game and the Sharks are down two men for some number of seconds.
No problem you say, they've done this before, they'll kill the penalties and cruise on to victory. Except they don't . They give up two goals in less than 30 seconds, two goals that could have been prevented. 
I blame the skaters on that, I really do .. but mostly I blame Niemi and the coach. Niemi for reasons well known and the coach because he did not seize the opportunity to tweak his game plan and go for an increase in the the lead .. and because he stuck with forcing the issue along the boards all series long, when it was clear the Kings were prepared and equipped to handle most of that.
Epic colapse that came to bite then 
Because it would have prevented a game 7 .. and another early exit from the playoffs.

I will skip the next 4 games. They were the  typical " I will win in my own barn" type of games. Not that the Sharks didn't lose opportunities or blown chances or given up softies ... they did .. but it was bsaically a trade of blows.
And then came game 7.  The one game to win it all, the type of game where legends are made. 
First period, no score. Sharks with a bit of edge in some of the stats but it was just a hard fought period with not many chances on net. A cautios period by two tired and weary teams. That was expected. What was not expected happened in the second. The kings had some life for a while and . they scored two goals. Two absolutely preventable goals both on the part of the D and on the part of the goalie. Two soul jarring life sucking brain busting blunders. And the Sharks are down two nothing.
but then the third period comes and they go all out. Or so it would seem. they even score a goal to cut the deficit in half. But there was something missing. They show no creativity, their system is well read by the opposition and their attacks, while there were a number of them, were not of the ferocity you would expect. The danger level around Quick's net was not what you would want to see. Shots came and went but they did not go in, a lot of them were perimeter or low angle or "let's hit his logo" type. Sure they had legitimate chances but they just weren't good enough. Not as good as they should have been, not as good as this team can create.
and the absolutely most infuriating thing: they "stuck with the system". Dump and chase along the boards with a few minutes to go, for which the Kings were ready/ Pull the goalie and  .. do the same .. force the boards with no results.At no point they tried anything different. As if the coach was under a spell and his brain was completely impotent and the players were brainwashed. It was embarrassing to watch. No team should go down this way. Well that was until the bruins pooped their pants.

And so it was over. The blame  and excuses started falling: oh the refs did us in, Shanny ruined it for us, it was all Havlat's fault, there were too many injuries, at some point i think I heard someone blaming Nabber and Rathje.
And some of that is true.
but do you remember my keys to playoff success for the Sharks this year?
I called on Fatbutt, Marleau Pavel and Niemi to stand up and take this team to the promised land.
Well let's look how they fared in this elimination round:

Joe (Fatbutt) Thornton : 1 goal , three assists for the series. 4 points in 7 games. No points in game 7, no shots on goal in game 7. took a dumb penalty as well in game 7. did the captain do his job? Not in my book but you cast your own judgment please.

Joe (LilJoe) Pavelski, 4 assists in 7 games , no goals. At least he tried in game 7 more than others but still fell short.  I grade him above Fatbutt and probably did the best out of my "keys".

Antti (Auntie) Niemi, on the surface did his job somewhat with honor.  stats-wise he was not terrible as fearthefin and many other stat munchers will tell you. And i partially agree with them. But then he gave up absolutely ridiculous goals at the most inopportune times. And in two of the games, he was one of the top reasons the Sharks lost. He failed in my eyes .. again. With a big F .. as big as the F in his Flops.

And we come to Patrick ( Cap'n Blinky) Marleau. The most beloved Shark in history. The reason for many heartbreaks and fights over at the Sharks board.
1 goal and two assists for the series. No points in game 7 .. worse, no points in last 4 games of the series.  What more there is to say? Mr heartbreak does his job. But his fans still don't see that the combination of the soft spoken and kind Marleau and devil may care attitude in Fatbutt is poison to this team.

And the coaching did not help. How in the world did Mcleeloo get renewed for two more years? Can someone explain this to me? They had no other options? did Plattner told them to stay the course and fix their issue without swapping chairs? Please, if you konw, tell me. I want to understand this. Mcleeloo took an already decent team from Ronnie  right after Doug bolstered it with acquisitions like Boyle, and took it ONE step higher than Ronnie could. And since then it has been going down despite getting the "cup winning and Vezina candidate, Niemi ( whom from now I should call MrStat) , in goal, despite tweaking endlessly the lineup and some of the assistants, McLeeloo's teams simply do not succeed. they fall flat in their faces in a series that was theirs to lose .. and he gets re-signed?
Maybe there is something hidden  behind their decisions and I'll see the error in my thinking in the following two years .. but I have serious doubts.

And here we are now. Since they got kicked in the nads, they re-signed a couple of their pending free agents and they seemingly started a war with Havlat and his health issues. Now many say Havlat needs to be shown the door one way or another but nobody has come up with a solid and cheaper replacement for him. the reality is the Sharks need one or two Havlats ( when healthy. 
A lot can happen in the off-season , we shall see where it all ends but my disappointment  in this team, in this organization, continues. I was so exulted  after the first round, only to be shown the error of my ways in the second. This sharks still has no teeth.

'till a later date .. toodlydoo

your's truly, Da pimp.

PS, bitch all you want about what I said but don't complain about spelling and grammar. I tried to finish this countless times and every time I got angry. so i am not going proofread it. Deal with it :)



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Only the good die young

All the Evil seems to live forever...

This is the taste I have after the first round.
Well some of it
Regarding the East Coast.
Or some of it.

I kid I kid. What a round, eh? ( am I allowed to use that if I am not Canadian?)
The Canucks had to be scraped of the ice after the beating they were handed by the Sharks. The Ducks had no Wings, the Pens were saved by their backup goalie. That Boston series was all kinds of crazy till the end. the Sens showing the Price is not right and ultimately humiliating one of the the most arrogant team/fanbase in the league. The Rags  .. well they were basically willed in by their goalie and  .. ummm well some form of higher but non-celestial power, it seems.
It was a crazy round and I loved all of it.
Except the Penguins and the Rags moving on. That part I hate almost as much as I love what the Sharks did to the Canucks.
My "keys" were almost perfect. Marleau, Pavelski, Niemi and even Thornton played well or exceptionally well most of the time. And they will have to continue to do so. But enough gloating about my brilliance. It is obvious  I am not infallible otherwise a certain Crybaby would not be playing hockey still.
Round 2 is upon us and it starts tonight with the West. Two series with glorious potential. First the Blackhawks are going to try to pluck some Wings for their head pieces. This is a series almost everybody expects to turn into a quick and painless dumping of the wings ... But I am thinking it won't be that easy. Or at least I am hopeful it won't be that easy. At this point, Detroit has already overachieved, according to many , including me. so they must feel pretty good about themselves .. and they might continue to overachieve for another round. At this point I would probably start talking about match-ups, strategies on both sides so on and so forth but knowing both teams pretty well as well as some of the tendencies of the coaches, any "prediction" on that would likely only be valid for a few shifts of the first game. While both teams have clear defined game plans and styles, they both showed extreme ability to adapt. It is going to be a very entertaining series full of strategic fencing by the two coaches and their respective teams. While Chicago has the far better team overall, I do believe this Detroit team who stunned the Ducks, has a chance to put up a fight with their balance of wisdom and youth. the Detroit team that won that last game against the Ducks was not the Detroit team we saw mid-season, tired, broken, dejected.
Mark my words, this might be the most interesting series of this round. Or it might be as most "experts" predict, a boring beatdown by the indians.

At a somewhat opposite end of the spectrum , at least in the coaching department, you have the Sharks vs  LA Kinducks
( this was my dream first round series) 
These coaches are usually asking their players to abide by the system in a very strict manner. Typically. We have seen a bit of change in the Sharks though.  Certain players being allowed more liberties, certain players not being punished for failed attempts at creativity. There is change in the air but for the most part Todd Mclellan is a system guy and so is Coach Sutter. La will try to be punishing all over the ice, they will bang the key guys for the Sharks while trying to win the series relying quite a bit on their secondary scoring. Or at least that is my opinion at the moment. Many in the Sharks fan camp are worried that the loss of Clowe and Murray will be felt in a negative way in this series. I, for one, I am glad they are not with SJ for this series. Kings have been threatening in the first round  on speedy counterattacks. Exactly the kind of plays Clowe and Murray are absolutely horrible at.
Yes they were "the muscle" needed against a team like the Kings but do not forget the Sharks have showed a knack for creating PP's out of nothing. Sure, after all the media outcry following the antics from the first round and the Kings are not exactly that much more undisciplined, so the Sharks will have a harder time to get a PP going their way but the way Wingles and Torres are playing, sprinkled with the efforts of Desjardins and Sheppard and not forgetting Pavelski and Couture and even Fatbutt, the calls will come. And if the Sharks score on those opportunities,  nobody will miss the muscle lost in Clowe and Murray. Not to mention nobody will miss Clowe blowing up and costing the team a goal or three.
But , ultimately, what I am trying to get at, my opinion is that, this is not going to be a series won by secondary scoring as some experts claim, this will be won by the heavy guns and goalies. Especially goalies. If Quick out-duels Niemi by a large margin, it's game over. Niemi has to be just like in the first round. Safe and steady, no extra flopping about, no theatrics, just cover your percentages and worry about the first shot. Quick has showed some rust this season and a bit in post-season but he also tends to get better with pressure so I think the Sharks need to take advantage of him .. quick. As in score  and score a lot right of the bat, throw him of his game and keep him there. Shooting a million low percentage shots from the perimeter, right in his chest and pads  will only warm him up. Pick your spot, Sharks, and make shots count. Rattle his cage and keep at it because if he enters the zone , you'll be playing golf in two weeks.
That is my western coast "preview" attempt. I know, it's pathetic. Blame it on Sam Adams. East coast follows tomorrow.