Shark-Infested Blogger

January 19, 2010 1:33 PM

Sharks Looking to Start New Decade Right

The San Jose Sharks are coming off one of the most dominating performances I have ever witnessed. They absolutely burned out the Calgary Flames Monday night with a 9-1 victory, but it was the way they played that was most impressive.

After jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period, Calgary did what Calgary does: If you can't beat 'em, beat 'em up.

Personally, I think this is lame. Go ahead and turn the game physical, as Calgary did successfully to the Sharks two years ago in the playoffs after falling behind 3-0, but be mature enough to play harder when you are getting beat, not fight like some 12-year old bully. When I am unable to beat my friend at pool, I do not start throwing haymakers--it would be bad sportsmanship.

But to be a successful hockey team, you have to be able to roll with it. We have all experienced this from teams like Anaheim and Calgary, and if you cannot take it, you will not win the Stanley Cup...the Sharks have been unable to take it before.

Oh, the Sharks have not been afraid to drop the gloves the past two seasons, but they do not seem to do it at the right times. And sometimes when they do, they lose focus on the game itself. That is in fact what happened in that series against Calgary: Ryane Clowe took a roughing minor in which a power play goal was scored by Calgary to get them back in the game because he did not make sure his opponent was going to drop the gloves and the Sharks kept their focus on the hits instead of the puck.

You can react one of two ways to such play:
  1. Do onto others as they have done unto you (with all apologies to my Lord, the Golden Rule does not work in hockey).
  2. Do unto others as the Red Wings would and score on the ensuing power play.
Or you can do what the Sharks did Monday night: both. When Brandon Prust, the most frequent fighter on the most frequently fighting team in the NHL, started swinging, he was getting the better of Brad Staubitz. But Staubby absorbed punches until he could get his left hand free (not wanting to use his right as he is a right-handed shot) and unloaded a couple blows that left his opponent off-balance so he could topple him over and land on him.

Then the Sharks went out and scored again, going into the break up 3-0 with a 17-4 edge in shots on goal. Too often in the past, that would lead to a letdown for the Sharks, and it looked like that was happening, as the Flames intensity led to two Sharks penalties in the first five minutes. But this time, they weathered the storm and, after killing the penalties, went back to work, scoring three more goals in a six-minute span that left them with a 6-0 lead under 90 seconds from the second intermission, and the fight went out of the Flames.

Calgary pulled Miikka Kiprusoff for the third period, and the Sharks looked like they wanted to prove it was not Kipper's fault: Devin Setoguchi scored one of the hardest-working and at the same time prettiest goals of the season less than five minutes in.

Robyn Regehr scored his first goal in two seasons as a response less than three minutes later to end Evgeni Nabokov's shutout bid. A few minutes later, Torrey Mitchell did not take kindly to an elbow he received from tough guy Rene Borque and was the aggressor for the first fight I have ever seen him in--it was clear the Sharks were not going to take any crap.

Shortly thereafter, they showed they were not done scoring either, as Rob Blake became the eighth different Shark with a goal. In the process, he added his name to the list of scorers (Joe Pavelski, Scott Nichol, Manny Malhotra, and Regehr) for whom it had been at least ten games since their last goal.

And the Sharks were still not done: 33 seconds later, Dany Heatley became the first repeat scorer of the game to extend the lead to 9-1. The crowd began chanting "We want 10," but the Sharks played the bottom two lines the rest of the way--including on the power play--and did not add another, despite maintaining good intensity.

San Jose is 6-2-1 in the new decade, and 4-0-1 in their last five after a very disappointing performance at home against the Wings in which coach Todd McLellan called them out publicly for their lack of effort. The only loss was a 43-shot shootout loss in which Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas absolutely stole the game; the only non-shootout goal Nabby gave up was kicked in by his own defenceman.

San Jose travels to Los Angeles to take on their in-state division rivals Tuesday night for the final time of the season. The Sharks are 2-2-1 vs. the Kings so far, with one of their wins being in a shootout--i.e. in order to even tie the season series, San Jose must take this one in regulation. Let us hope the reason we did not see Thomas Greiss give Nabby a rest once the shutout was gone is because he will be in net.

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