March 29th, 2010, 11:10 am
Seems so long ago that the Sharks got crushed by the worst team in the NHL 5-1. But it’s only been eight days. I think Adrian Dater said it best (from Colorado’s perspective):
Here’s the problem: they didn’t win the game. And another: that wasn’t the real Sharks they played tonight. That was San Jose’s B Team. No Joe Thornton, no Evgeni Nabokov, no Rob Blake. First-line center, starting goalie, arguably the top D-man – not in the lineup.
Well, ok, maybe not. Blake is ‘arguably’ the Sharks’ top D-man? Please. But he was right in the first part- the Sharks were missing some key players, fought against a much better team than the Oilers and won. Despite the sinking feeling that inevitably comes with Jumbo being out of the lineup, the fact that the Sharks can still pull off wins against playoff teams is very encouraging. The latest news on Joe is that it might not be serious- tests are being done today (Pollak), and he’ll most likely be on the road trip. If he sits out a few games, it’s not the end of the world. It was particularly interesting to see how the Sharks would respond without an all-world passer in the lineup, and they responded exactly how I hoped they would- with gritty goals.
Despite my criticism for Todd McLellan this year about his (in my view) overplaying of Nabokov, one marked difference between this year and last is the care the coaching staff has taken with injured players. I think the lesson was learned from last year’s playoffs when Marleau played the Ducks series with a fairly serious knee injury. This is a situation I’m sure T-Mac does not want to replicate, and sitting Blake and Thornton is absolutely the right plan. I hope he sits both of them an extra game or two just to be sure. Blake could probably use the rest anyway, and we need Joe 100%. It also makes the last games more interesting – I like to watch Couture mature (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it), and the Demers-Vlasic combo could be the #2 pairing next year.
In other news, it seems Cheechoo has been suspended two games for this hit (thanks for the link, Joel)
While I admire Cheech’s ingenuity with the poolhall-type combination shot, it was a pretty dangerous play, and deserves to sit.