However, I’m about to…sorry Drew.
A team like the San Jose Sharks, hoping to compete in the upper echelon of the NHL, a tier they busted their tails to get to, shouldn’t require a 5-on-3 power play advantage to simply get on the board against a bad team. Especially, when that “bad” team is the putrid New York Islanders, a hockey team two years off from even making the playoffs.
It’s these close wins versus teams that should be blown out of the building, that are causing the intestinal rumblings amongst the Faithful up and down West Santa Clara Street, and last night was no different.
2 in the net, Maalox you get.
Yes, the Islanders were hungry after 8 straight defeats and yes, Joe Pavelski was victimized by a technical crease violation which waived off a goal of his last night. More than these two factors, it was the uncomfortable air of “even competition” pervading though HP Pavilion that was the most unsettling.
More than looking just like a team with nothing to lose, the Islanders scored first and looked every bit the Sharks’ equal all game, and only Dan Boyle and his solid tally in the second period and eventual game winner in the shootout prevented a disaster.
The Sharks welcomed Joe Thornton back, and a solid-though-rusty Jumbo helped the Sharks dutifully outshoot their opponent yet again. This decent aspect of play was belied by the lousy yang-to-this-yin this season, that of the Sharks tending to turn the puck over with gleeful abandon. Last night, they coughed up the puck 18 more times to only 7 on the Islanders’ side…the game before, the Sharks were ahead in this dubious category by a 16-5 margin.
Those muffed passes, lazy dumps and whiffs are exactly the kind of thing that, not only shorts out the Sharks offense, but gives young teams like the Islanders the hope that a top- tier team should never be giving an opponent.
Poor teams like the Islanders should come into the thumping Shark Tank, not hopeful, but discouraged and intimidated, and the last thing the Sharks should ever do is wind up playing competitive hockey.
What is needed is non-competitive, bruising, total hockey right now versus these tight games against sub-standard opponents. I want a disproportionate response! It’s not just pucks refusing to go into the net here, but a bigger issue of sloppy play and an apparent lack of a killer instinct, that is preventing the Sharks from shaking out of the doldrums and returning to their lofty standing.
These nail-biters can only serve to embolden actual decent teams like the Kings in their quest to eventually dethrone the Pacific Division Champs, and the Sharks need to find their mojo before they wind up turning themselves into a merely competitive hockey team.
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