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 :)