'Tis the season to be ...
pumped up for the playoffs
It's finally here, The NHL Playoffs, the mother of all sporting championsips...
and the mother of all crushing disappointments for the fans of a team called SJ Sharks.
Yes, I will be Negative Nelly.
Because I have to be.
Because there's just too much excitement and high hopes in some fan circles, too much exultance and exuberance .
Because there's too much ignorance.
Because the Sharks force me to be that way.
Yes, they did recover after the long stretch of scoring impotence and overall uselessness in the middle of the season. Yes they have made some good trades getting rid of large immovable objects who were dragging them down. Yes they made possibly one of the best "deadline" move of their past three season by getting Torres, Yes they have changed their game and yes they have fought their way back into the playoffs and into some form of respectability ... according to some standards.
But it's not enough.
Not for me.
See, when I think of the Sharks, I like to think of "what they could be". And when you add up the talent+ experience+intangibles+potential, The Sharks can look absolutely SCARY to any team or fans of other teams.'
But , in real world, they are the ACTUAL Sharkswe know so well, not the ones in my almost-wet hockey dreams.
The Sharks from the real world are highly disappointing when it comes to the playoffs. I know, I know some of you will charge at me saying we are spoiled here in Calilalala land with the Sharks making the playoffs at will, it would seem, in recent years. Boohoo I say .. the dissapointment is even bigger when it happens in the playoffs.
So what it would take for this team to actually see how it feels to play in the Stanley Cup finals? Well , easy peasy .. beat three teams, four times each. Can the Sharks do it? I believe they can. Will they do it? HAHAHAHA .. mmmmmm most likely not.
Mainly because they key people will falter. They have always found a way to.
So who are main people and what/why do we have to talk about them?
Main pieces only because I really don't want to talk about why Matt Irwin should not be logging the minutes he does ... or how important Torres is , especially in the upcoming series or potential confrontations with Anaheim, LA or Chicago. There are four people I am looking at for success.
And they are:
The Cap is.. well .. they don't call him Fatbutt for nothing. Not that he's fat .. but at ( frequent) times he's a lard-arse mentally.
He's "comfortable" when they are struggling and he thinks they play a good game even when they are losing. ( I can dig out his actual quotes if anybody doubts these statements). This guy, who CAN still dominate a sheet of ice if he really wants to, has become more lackadaisical, about his approach to the game and of the game, every season. Some say what we see is it's just the off-ice attitude and that it doesn't reflect in his on-ice delivery. To that I say : "are you out of your freaking mind?, Have you paid any attention to what happens on that ice?" Yes, Drew, if you read this, it was directed at you.
This guy is far more capable than what he's been delivering but for whatever reason you rarely seem him unload fully and thoroughly for more than a few shifts in a few games. Mr Thornton, my 2 cents say you will never win the silver chalice until you go into beast mode and stay that way until the final whistle of the final game. A very dear friend once said: true champions not only are not afraid to sweat blood, it's the only way they know how to sweat. Despite the rise of certain young players, this is still "Fatbutt's team" ...and usually the way he goes so goes the team. So ... what's it going to be Mr. Thornton?
Next, the team's longest tenure player and this town biggest love story with any player in the team's history, the Beloved Blinky .. ok I am sorry, that is rude, Mrs Patrick Marleau, is ... well ... streaky ... and nonchalant
infuriatingly nice at times.
With Marleau, you always know what you get : a string of excellence and then long bouts of drought. His inconsistency is very consistent that way.
The problem is, his droughts seem to come at the worst possible times, at times when you would expect the team's most loved and at times best player to come up with a rabbit or 5 out of his rear. But, it seems, when the team and fans are at the most time of need of a rabbit stew, Marleau starts cooking rabbit turds. Cue in all the Marleau fans, led by some "media personalities", furiously waving stacks of papers with playoff stats on them screaming the "clutch-ness" (is that a word?) of their favorite fellow, from the top of their lungs, to which I will calmly reply : show me the data on his Stanley Cup Final games. Or at least the data on him clutchingly clinching a trip to said Final with a pair of timely goals.
Oh yes .. you can't show me that.
Marleau needs to show he has a pair and he has to show it all the time. Sweat blood Marleau.. it's not unfashionable. You can be brilliant. So be it.
Pavelski ... he's mad .. he's really mad. Couture stole his thunder. After all JuicyJuice is the talk of all the towns as "the next generation", "the future", the Messiah" .. ok maybe not that last one.
But What about Pavel? One of the most professionally correct professional if I ever saw one. A guy who can topple kingdoms with a simple quick wrister over the glove of the best goaltenders in the known universe.
Well Pavel has been partly slacking, partlyyyyyyy .. something else. What, though, is unknown. Some injury that is kept a secret? Some lingering issues from previous season(s) ? Or maybe he is in love? That disease has mortally damaged manny a players currently on the Sharks roster. Whatever the cause is, Pavel needs to find the antidote because the team needs him. The fans need him, Couture needs him.
Are you shocked at my last sentence? It is true, you know. Yes Couture was , probably, the best player for the Sharks the entire season, and most likely will be the best player for the Sharks in the playoffs, however long they are. But, remember how I said the way Fatbutt goes, so does the team? Why do you think I didn't say "Couture"? Because having Fatbutt on the ice forces certain match-ups from the opposition that work in Juicy's favor, for the most part. And especially when Fatbutt plays well, the matchups become even more favorable for Juicy. Well not imagine you insert a third Variable: Pavel and his line. Now imagine a Sharks team in which Pavel plays up to his potential, and Fatbutt plays up to this potential, imagine the tough matchups the opp has to come up with and imagine the impact that will have on Juicy's numbers! Now imagine the opp not having to worry about Fatbutt and Pavel. Couture n'est pas plus.
Part of the reason this team is in the playoffs is the fact that each of Fatbutt, Juicy and Couture has his own line. I don't imagine Couture will take too many shifts off, he very rarey seems to do ( hard work is one of the reasons I still don't completely dislike the guy, with his arrogance and all) , which is why I think the performance of Fatbutt and Pavel are more important to the team, than that of Juicy.
Reader, at this point you must think I am nuts.
Wait till you see what else I have to say.
This team needs a good goalie. Or at least good goaltending from the Niemi (lovingly named "Sloth" by the fanbase...or at least some of them ... the ones that matter.)
Aaaaaaand here come the pitchforks : but how dare I insinuate a goalie who put up those kind of numbers this year and already won a cup and might win Vezina, is not good or did not play good?
Weeeeellll, here's how it goes. I explained in a previous post my stance on our beloved Sloth. To me , he's simply not the right goalie for this team, as in not the goalie that can carry them , will them, push them, pull them drag them to a Stanley Cup. His numbers from this year mean nothing to me, yes he has improved his game, quite impressively in a few areas .. but he is still the goalie that will give up a back breaking sloftie short side on an easy midrange shot or the typical 6th or 7th hole screwups he comes up with every now and then.
I simply don't care if he stops 3 billion perimeter shots or everything that comes down low, if he flops on his back for a second too long at the wrong moment, or if he forgets to hug his damn post, or if he trips over himself on a long range shot or if he rebounds straight to an opp player at full charge when the entire rest of the ice was empty.
Niemi needs to NOT give up that sloftie and MAKE that extra save he was brought in to make, that save that always eluded a much more technical Nabokov. I can visualize the incredulous look on the face of a certain color TV commentator who called Niemi "MVP" and some other "experts" who coined him a Vezina candidate .. but seriously ..,. that color comentator proved many times over the years he knows very little about us, goalies. Although he was always the "biggest fan" of every goalie the Sharks had.
But I digress.
These are the key elements needed for the Sharks to succeed .
Sure you can talk ad nauseam about other key elements like Boyle and Stuart and Havlat and the secondary scoring and the coaching and their itchy desperate fingers pulling the wrong strings at the first sign of things not going according to their plan. And size and speed and responsibilities and assignments and so on .. but mark my words, this team lives and dies by the actions of the four I mentioned.
As for the upcoming Vancouver Series? All the experts are saying Vancouver will win. I say they will choke in the vomit of the people who got sick watching them dive.
On a more serious note, The Sharks only need to play a sound middle of the ice game, and crowd the net to win this series.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst .. GO SHARKS
ok .. bring in on "readers" and as usual .. if you are complaining about grammar and typos .. I don't care.