The Good News? There’s 78 Games left…

To say this weekend for the Sharks was a rude awakening is to say the least. Three games, three losses…bad losses at that. Two of the three were to the arch rival Anaheim Ducks who not only dealt the Sharks a huge dose of humble pie, but also sent a very loud message to team teal in the process. Sandwiched in between those two losses was in inexplicable 3rd period collapse to the St Louis Blues who’s rally to victory at The Tank this past Saturday night started with a goal by Sharks cast-off Kent Huskins.

 The Good News – There are 78 games left and it’s early.  However, though playoff races and for that matter Cup finalist are not decided in October, the seeds for a teams destiny can be sewed if they get off to a bad start. At 1-3, I won’t sugar coat it, the Sharks are off to a somewhat bad start, cetainly not what any of us expected. A co-worker told me today the Sharks are the “Philadelphia Eagles of the NHL” right now, and I find it hard to argue with him right now at this moment and time. Like the NFL Eagles, after an impressive opener the Sharks have laid three straight eggs. So what now? Well there are things to consider, and keep in mind this is very early in the season.

 

Much of this team has been together long enough to know that bad stretches happen not only to them but to all teams at some point. The Sharks have been hit with some adversity which eventually will happen because it’s the nature of the NHL (and all professional sports). No team is exempt, Nobody! Monday night, Antti Niemi was in goal for the first time since Game 5 vs Vancouver in WCF back in May. The Sharks had 41 shots on goal last night and over 110 in the three losses. Give some credit where credit is due, Friday Jonas Hiller stole the show and looked like Patrick Roy. Brian Elliott stole the show for St Louis on Saturday, though the Sharks 3rd period collapse was huge too…

As for Monday Night, Dan Ellis deserves a lot of credit though the Sharks missed several opportunities too which frankly is on them. Oh, and the Ducks maybe a little better than some had earlier thought. Patrick Marleau having the flu doesn’t help either (hopefully the team didn’t catch it). Even if they did, not a good excuse really (they have this thing called “flu shots”, the team should have already had them by now). Maybe Marleau should have just sneezed on Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Ellis…it may have helped, but I digress… 

 The upcoming six game East Coast roadtrip which starts Friday in New Jersey may be a good thing. Why? This team may need this trip to bond as a team and get it’s act together. Maybe a little “us against the world” maybe what the Sharks need right now. The Sharks will need to go about 4-2 or 4-1-1 (or even 3-2-1) on this trip, otherwise they will have a huge hole dug for themselves come November. Again, playoffs spots are not awarded on what you do in October, it’s how you finish. However, a big hole is just that and even with 5 months to go those can be tough to climb out of. Coach Todd McLellan and staff know that this ship needs to be righted fairly quickly. Now, the Sharks did start last season 1-2-1.

  

The one thing going for the Sharks right now is that the season has just started. Certainly, nobody thought this team would be 1-3 after four games, but it is what it is. The bad thing is that you have two regulation losses to Anaheim, and the remaining four games vs the Ducks will loom to be much larger as the season moves forward. The Sharks know this, and can guarantee the Ducks know this too. Also, the Sharks have yet to face L A, Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit…the powers to be in the West. The Sharks have some work to do starting now!

 

Hopefully, when we look back six months from now, this 3 game slide will be nothing more than a “blip in the radar” and we will see this six game roadie as the point where the Sharks started to “right the ship” and take charge of their destiny. It can happen, and it needs to happen. This roster is very good, but the Sharks after four games certainly have their work cut out for them. We will see if they are up to the task. It’s a long way to go, however much of what may happen for the Sharks later may very well depend on how they respond on this upcoming road trip. And believe me, they will need to respond…

 

The King Shark