Nobody on Earth believes in the San Jose Sharks…yes, again.
After turning in one of their worst games last night in Vancouver, losing 7-3, the San Jose Sharks have put themselves back into familiar territory, as the team whom all of society’s overhyped underachievers can glom onto as their very own.
This turn of events and regression is all on them too.
The usual media blathering and biased, anti-Shark sentiment aside, it’s always going to be a little difficult defending the team on the losing end of a 7-3 stomping. So, I won’t. The San Jose Sharks were quite simply awful last night, and when Patrick Marleau is the guy on the team trying to take the physical initiative in a game…it ain’t going well.
The Sharks were clinically outhustled and outplayed in all facets of the game of ice hockey last night. They were a step slow to everything, their passing seemed like the kind you see during one of those preseason exhibitions in Bakersfield, and neutral zone turnovers were occurring at a throw-the-remote-against-the-wall-repeatedly rate.
And, if you’re following along, the number is now eight.
That would be the number of consecutive Western Conference Finals games that the San Jose Sharks have lost—two to Calgary, four last year to Chicago and the two so far to Vancouver. The Sharks have a history of not being good enough in this round, and absolutely lived up to that reputation last night by looking every bit the Canucks’ inferior.
But, what most frustrates is that the Vancouver Canucks didn’t even beat the best the Sharks had to offer last night. Not even close. They didn’t even beat the “first half of the season lost for stretches” team, and the Canucks definitely didn’t beat the “second half renaissance juggernaut” Sharks team.
Rather, the team in Teal last night was this rattled, immature, bizzaro group that was just frightening in its’ futility.
Everybody gave the San Jose Sharks a pass after the taxing series against the Detroit Red Wings, when they blew yet another 3rd period lead in the first game loss to Vancouver. But last night was supposed to be the different. This was supposed to be the “answer” game, free of any Detroit Red Wings induced cobwebs.
Instead of answers though, all the Sharks have presented is now more questions. Have the Sharks just been playing over their heads? Are they really just the Andy Roddick of the NHL, and forever condemned to almost good enough status? Do they have the maturity to weather frustration without going berserk and acting like a bunch of recently called up QMJHL goons?
I mean, 51 penalty minutes? Really? Yeah, I get that the bulk of those came in the dying minutes of the 3rd period during Scrumfest, but what about Ben Eager’s performance? Ben chipped in five separate minors last night to go along with the late game misconduct. Lousy penalties all of them, but the worst was Eager’s tripping of Mason Raymond. That particular call both numbed the senses for anyone watching, and led to a PP tally for the Canucks to go up two goals and erase any hope of a comeback. In what would be a theme, that PP goal was just the beginning, and the Canucks would convert on three PPs before the game was over.
There are pockets of resistance to this wave of doom and gloom though. Led by Joe Thornton, who has shed his own label of playoff no-show, Jumbo has been busting his hump and playing gritty hockey during every shift of every game he has played in these playoffs.
But is it enough?
Jumbo has tried leading by example, but unfortunately, that simply is not getting the job done versus the Canucks. Basically, through two games for every hustle play Jumbo makes, there’s a Devin Setoguchi getting his pocket picked at center ice or a Dan Boyle entry pass gaffe to more than compensate.
Logan Couture stated following last night’s game that Game 3 this Friday, the first one at the Tank this series, will need to be played like a series elimination game by the Sharks. Couture said last night’s game should have been treated this way, but wasn’t, and they were in his words, embarrassed. I think that is a good (and accurate) realization, and if there is any silver lining here being down 0-2 to a team like the Vancouver Canucks, it’s knowing that nobody on the Sharks is ducking the responsibility to be better.
There is character present on this team, and character is what is needed in spades right now. You want something to hang on to for a series rally? Believe that there is a locker room full of proud men who feel a responsibility to themselves, their coaches and the fans to prove they are not as bad as they have looked for two games.
Say what you want about the intelligence of Patrick Marleau dropping the mitts last night versus Kevin Bieksa, but at least he fought. I have been watching the Sharks for a long time, and have no idea off the top of my head how many times Marleau has fought…all I can say is it was the first time I’d ever seen it.
The rare fight should have motivated the team, but instead, following the scrap, the team just stayed in their own little world, blankly tapping their sticks against the boards like zombies in the obligatory celebration of Patty’s effort.
They pull another mindless stinker on Friday, and this series is all but over.
But, if the San Jose Sharks can tap into the substantial character that now seemingly lies dormant, and answer the bell in Game 3…just like they did most recently in Game 7 versus the Wings?
Well, we might just have ourselves a series.