The San Jose Sharks are just playin’ possum! They got ‘em right where they want ‘em! No? Any one on board with that?
Ok, those were desperately hopeful statements. I only wish the San Jose Sharks‘ boring, see-saw, unmotivated play of late was part of some larger diabolical plot to play dead until rising triumphantly and planting a collective skate on the neck of the Western Conference.
Problem is I think they might just suck out loud right now.
After a hard fought battle down in Los Angeles back on New Year’s Day, where the Sharks exited the plastic “Land of Kobe (and guys who rent studio apartments but drive new BMW M5s)” with a 1-0 shutout victory, the wheels have completely fallen off the Shark’s DeLorean including three straight home losses.
Comparing the last three home games with the “Back to the Future” franchise seems daunting, but soldier on I shall. In contrast to the Sharks, Marty McFly had a great three game stretch in the “Back to the Future” franchise. First film was legendary: clock tower, Marty rocking out at the prom on guitar, Crispin Glover’s left cross to Biff’s gosh-darn jaw…that whole deal was just awesome.
Second movie was solid too, even though they changed up Marty’s girlfriend without saying anything and had flying cars in 2015. Heads up on that one by the way, as we’re four years away from the “Zemeckis Flying Car Deadline”. Look busy. Apparently, as we had been pouring all of our collective intellect into inventing the internet, flash sales and social networking, the manpower could have been put towards making our cars fly. Damn liberals.
The third installment I was not personally a fan of with the whole Western angle, but it was certainly still at the very least entertaining. Bottom line, when you happen to catch the B2TF movie marathon on TBS during some rainy Sunday at home, you probably watch a little of all three films and enjoy yourself.
Now, if the Sharks recent play at home were a movie franchise, they would be some unholy stinker trinity of “Caddyshack II”, “Blues Brothers 2000” and “Speed 2: Cruise Control” with Jason Patric. Just a trite mess of three disparate films mashed together into an alliance of hair brained story arcs, warmed over stars and ticked off theatre goers. Instead of DeLorean’s, laughs and resolution…just a haze of viewer confusion, zero continuity, mailed in effort and poor John Goodman in a pair of Ray Bans trying to do the impossible and stand in for John Belushi.
Outside of the Goodman part, any of this sound familiar Sharks fans? Trite mess? Warmed over stars? Ticked off?
The most disturbing part of the Sharks current four game skid is that three of these showcases of mostly lethargic play have happened right here on home ice, a place in years past where the Sharks have been next to unbeatable. To point, during the entire 2009-2010 season, the Sharks lost six times at the Tank. Six.
To term that kind of dominance a home “swagger” would be an understatement. More than just a simple home ice advantage, HP Pavilion was a veritable “House of Horrors” to opposing teams in years past. Fans would rage, the passion would fill the barn to the rafters and flow directly into Sharks teams who fed off it and used it to power crushing and dominant play at the Tank.
We may never have set off the seismic activity scales at the Tank like they did up in Seattle last weekend for the Seahawks and Saints NFL wildcard game, but we can come pretty close. I would argue that if you put one of those seismic activity meters at the corner of N. Autumn and W. Santa Clara during a playoff game introduction, the Tank Faithful could make that Seattle crowd look like a book club meeting.
This year though, the fans have been doing their part, but the flux capacitor link seems to be frayed between the home crowd and team. And, as for home dominance part? The Sharks managed to drop three straight at home…in one week!
You know who plays like that? Teams like the New York Islanders, a year in, year out whipping boy of the league who just so happened to have lost less at home this year than the defending Western Conference Champions.
Last week’s home implosion started off with a tough one against the Vancouver Sedins who knocked them off at the Tank 4-3. This game stung, but to be fair, this was not one where heavy criticism could be voiced against the Sharks. Yes, they lost a lead late (very), but honestly, they battled the score to level all game in a back and forth affair with the class of the NHL. Though the outcome was absolutely frustrating and definitely painful, the Sharks didn’t look necessarily awful or 100% putrid.
Next up, they faced the Buffalo Sabres and did someone say something about looking putrid? This particular game was supposed to be the bounce back opportunity on home ice against a mediocre team in the Sabres, but instead turned into a shutout and 500th victory party for Lindy Ruff. Yay, glad we could help. The way the Sharks played that night, you would have thought they had put streamers up in the away locker room before the puck drop for him. Not exactly digging in and taking care of business at home, as Buffalo scored twice in the first period and once early in the second, and then proceeded to play “keep away” like a bully holding a clarinet above the reach of the Sharks’ crying, jumping band kid. It was an ugly and demoralizing game, and the Sharks’ realization of their own merely ordinary standing had to be hitting them right in the grill as the so-called “mediocre” team across the ice from them, made the Sharks look like a bunch of snot nosed bantams.
As bad as that game was, there was no way that it could go three straight home losses though right? Well, it could and it did. The third straight home game of shame for the Sharks found the Nashville Predators, a road weary team coming into town on the heels of two taxing West Coast games, making the Sharks look like the ones who were road weary and in need of a nap.
Instead of seizing the opportunity and charging up at home with a couple confidence building wins, the Sharks have instead skidded about, and after leaving the Tank ended up dropping another shutout to Anaheim last Sunday night for their fourth straight loss.
The Sharks won’t even leave the Pacific Time Zone until a tilt versus the Bruins on February 5th. That’s nine games either at home or within a two hour flight, and now would be a fantastic time to grab an identity of at least a competitive, fringe playoff team. The talent is there, but can it wake up or is this the inevitable regression back into a formerly dominant team?
Charging through and winning the Western Conference is a goal that is looking downright laughable to accomplish at this point, but we can start with consistent play that gets us into the playoffs. The Sharks are not as bad as they are playing, but need to figure it out before they redefine their season as a failure, and have Tank Faithful pining for the days when the Hockey Press would ask how far the Sharks will get in the playoffs.
Next up are the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, with the Sharks seemingly having nothing that is working. The losing skid is at four, and they get to welcome in a Toronto team in that just rang up nine goals on the Thrashers a couple games ago.
The moment is now. Somebody needs to step up on this team and place that first brick on the wall, and maybe tonight we find out who that is and see who amongst the Sharks are really willing and ready to lead.
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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Back To The Future, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, HP Pavilion, Lindy Ruff, Nashville Predators, New Orleans Saints, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Seahawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks