Blog Entry

No easy answers for Sharks

Posted on: April 28, 2009 2:18 am
Edited on: April 28, 2009 2:21 am

So what do they do now?

The San Jose Sharks changed their coach, added two high end defensemen with Stanley Cup rings, bolstered their lineup at the trade deadline and finished first overall in the standings for the first time. Yet after being eliminated from the playoffs by a 4-1 loss in Anaheim tonight, they have to face the reality that they have gotten absolutely nowhere.

It's becoming habit forming of course for the Sharks, who have been trendy picks to win it all every spring since the lockout, but have always managed to fall well short. But this latest exit, after just one round and against a bitter rival that didn't look like playoff material until the last six weeks of the schedule, is the worst and has to trigger the deepest soul searching for the organization.

Not that there is anything to be inherently ashamed about losing to the Ducks. Anaheim was among the league's best teams down the stretch and still has many core players from the 2007 Stanley Cup team, including a very deep blue line led by future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. And goalie Jonas Hiller has been standing on his head in his playoff debut, so this isn't what you could call a fluke upset by an eighth seed.

But the Sharks thought they had finally put all the pieces together after several years of tweaking. San Jose has size, balance and a deep reserve of talent, but they obviously haven't identified the intangible factor that is missing. All the changes helped during a great regular season, but the moves were made for this time of year and they didn't trigger difference making efforts from disappointing leaders Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, or anyone else for that matter. San Jose wasn't blown out of the series by any means, but the Sharks were outcompeted in enough stretches and at key times by a veteran team that actually understands what it takes to win.

That means something has to give in San Jose. Maybe they'll try to move Thornton or Marleau, although their contracts and lack of playoff success won't make it easy, or the Sharks could try a different, more widespread lineup overhaul. What is clear is that San Jose doesn't have the players who can win with it counts the most, and they are running out of time to find them.

Maybe they could study Chicago because the Blackhawks passed a big test tonight by beating the Flames 4-1 to win their first round series in six games.

The Blackhawks were one of the league's best stories this season as they iced an exciting young team that revitalized hockey in Chicago, and by the time the post season rolled around, they had been good enough for long enough to have shed the upstart perception that surrounded them early. Still, it was the playoff debut for a large part of Chicago's young roster.

Fortunately, the initiation came against Calgary, a team Chicago dominated in winning all four regular season games between them. The Flames had other problems too, arriving at the playoffs banged up badly along the blue line, with a power play that couldn't score and on the heels of a six week skid that saw them blow their division title.

The Blackhawks on the other hand finished strong and seemed to have enough of a talent edge to win this series decisively. Ultimately that's the way it happened, but the Flames still made Chicago work hard enough to learn a valuable lesson about this time of year. 

Chicago had to show the kind of grit and resilience necessary to stand to Calgary's attempt at physical intimidation and to come back from early deficits to win the first two games at home. Then the Blackhawks had to dig a little deeper after some doubt set in following two Calgary wins in its building. But the Blackhawks had the explosiveness and legs Calgary didn't, and that ended up making the difference in this series.

At least until tonight's finale in Calgary. The clincher was Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's show because he turned back 43 of 44 shots, including 18 during a furious second period push by the Flames. Chicago did its damage on only 16 shots because it got a pair of power play goals and had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, but Calgary was on all out attack all night and Khabibulin stood up to it.

And that might be the best news of all for the Blackhawks, who need the veteran to play the way he did leading Tampa Bay to the 2004 Stanley Cup if they hope to go deep.

Category: NHL

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: April 30, 2009 12:29 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

LOL Semenko...

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: April 29, 2009 11:13 am

No easy answers for Sharks

"The Sharks should be ok next year if the front office does not go nuts and completely overhaul the roster. Id like to see marleau cheechoo and thornton gone, patrick marleau and joe thornton just arent leaders."

And losing those three guys would not constitute a complete overhaul how?

Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 6:57 am

No easy answers for Sharks

Why does it display my messages one after another when I was responding to two different comments/blogs?

It makes me look like I'm talking to myself!!!

...well, I guess it's like they say, there's a douchebag on every just sucks that it had to be me...

Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 6:38 am

No easy answers for Sharks

Good point, but that was Chiarelli's trade, not O'Connell's (the architect of the Thornton trade). With the Chiarelli trade with Calgary, you got the added bonus of extra cap space to sign/resign the extra players (Chara, Savard, Ryder, Wheeler, etc) that made you guys the machine you are now. But looking at the long term picture, you're probably right.

Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 6:30 am

No easy answers for Sharks

Brad Stuart was such a "standout" that the Bruins traded him off to Calgary after just one year (with Primeau)? And how do you suppose the Bruins will win the cup with BRAD Stuart throwing his shoulders around, seeing that he's playing for Detroit? Don't you mean MARK Stuart? And as you said, Sturm's been you haven't been able to answer my question yet.

Firing the GM, not trading Thornton, turned the Bruins around.

You can't scapegoat the guy, the Sharks were playing the Ducks, so he got Chris Pronger everytime he was on the ice. So the rest of the team had to stand up, and they didn't. Never underestimate the Chris Pronger factor, the Oilers rode him to one win away from the Stanley cup.

...or it could just be that Joe Thornton is a pussy...

Since: Nov 21, 2008
Posted on: April 28, 2009 10:01 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

lovinmsu, what the hell are you talking about 33% of the time? where in the hell did you get  your math as soon as I seen that I dis-credit your entire post and stopped reading, learn some hockey.

Since: Apr 28, 2009
Posted on: April 28, 2009 9:59 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

I've been a Sharks fan since day one and figure I should start writing some music because they have consistently kept me singing the blues ever summer!  There's no question this is the most talented line-up they've had to date.  I think the true problem that has plagued the Sharks since the lockout is their mentality.  Consistently, when the Sharks are down a goal, it's blatantly obvious their spirits are shot and there's no chance of a comeback.  You can sense in all of their eyes that they all want to win, but they need to learn how to put "I" in team.  What I mean is, stop looking for somebody to make the big play when you're down a goal and make the big play yourself.  It doesn't matter if your name is Joe Thornton or Marcel Goc, just make it your priority to make the big play.  It's funny, out of all people, I thought Cheechoo showed the most poise this playoff.  He had nothing to lose because he has been downhill the past few seasons and yet he displayed the most character, creativity and willingness to win out of all Sharks.  The Sharks franchise has performed best as an underdog role - most likely because of less pressure.  This leads me to hope they're 7th or 8th place next year and defeat Detroit in the first round. 

My suggestion to the Sharks is not make any changes in personnel, scapegoats are rarely the right answer.  The right answer is to put emphasis on building mental strength.  This should be on McLellan's shoulder's to stress but the players consistently display EVERY game, EVERY period.  Not MOST games, MOST periods.  That was the death of the Sharks demise against the Ducks.  The Sharks outplayed the Ducks MOST games, but were not mentally tough for 60 minutes EVERY game.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: April 28, 2009 9:31 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

Dude - Talk about thinking before you type! I have no vested interest in seeing the Sharks lose, but you're deluding yourself at this point. "It happens?" And...."they DO have the team that can win it at this time of year." What proof do you have that this team has what it takes? Have you watched this team in the playoffs the past few years? You want us to believe it because you say so? And dragging in the ol' "San Jose would've easily handled any one out of the easy Eastern conference" is comically reaching at this point. I actually kind of like the Sharks, having once lived in the Bay Area, and it's a bummer to see them bounced again. But you - like them - need a cold dose of reality, my friend.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: April 28, 2009 9:06 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

You are exactly right.  I have been a season ticket holder for the last 4 years and have had to watch each and every playoff embarrassment and quite frankly i am absolutely sick of this team.  Joe (Choke) Thornton simply cannot get it done at this time of the year, neither can Marleau, the Sharks are just a bunch of softies that cannot get it done and my #1 problem with the sharks is goaltending Nabakov is just not a great goalie, hegives up an average of over 3 goals a game in the playoff and that just isn't going to do it.  Nabakov consistently gives up huge rebounds and lets in soft goals.  I am hoping for a large overhaul this off-season as it is clear this group cannot get it done.  4 years in a row now cannot get it done plain and simple.  I previously blamed Ron Wilson for out shortcomings but our problems run much deeper than the coaching staff.  Time to reload sharks this group just doesn't have it.

Since: Apr 28, 2009
Posted on: April 28, 2009 8:51 pm

No easy answers for Sharks

   I couldn't agree with you more. The unfortunate thing for Nabby is that he cannot have an off day when he isn't getting any support on the scoreboard. I suppose Nabby has to take the puck right up the middle himself and score. I'm really not sure what the answers are to the Sharks' problems, as far as who should stay, who should go, and whom they should acquire. The team is void of passion when it counts the most, which I really cannot even fathom! It seems like the Sharks need to have a townhall meeting in San Jose to get to the root of the problem! I know I'm blowing steam, but this early exit by my team hurts badly! My mood is gonna suck until the start of next season! LOL!

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