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 :)