rulururu
Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post One Is The Loneliest Number

April 14th, 2010, 10:17 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug

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One is the loneliest number. The cheese stands alone. Whoever smelt it, dealt it.

The Sharks lived up to their postseason label tonight. They let the underdog Avalanche dictate the game and paid the price, forcing lonely fans like us to wonder, as Mike said leaving the Tank, “if we’ve seen this movie before.”

What went wrong? To me, it was pretty obvious. The Avalanche had a game plan. Be tenacious with the forecheck and when the Sharks enter the zone, especially the top line, prevent the backpass and don’t allow them to set up shop from the point. Colorado did this to perfection, especially in the 2nd period, and it took 40 minutes and countless high turnovers from Dany Heatley and company, for the Sharks to make an adjustment. Once they did, the Sharks got better opportunities driving the net after gaining the zone or dumping the puck and going to get it.

The Sharks say all the right things but tonight they proved to be all talk and no action. They claim to be well aware of past playoff failure, public perception and the impeding label of “Biggest Chokers in NHL History” if they bow out two years in a row in the first round – but tonight, the first ten minutes of the 1st period excepted, they showed little emotion as a team and crumbled at the end of the game – allowing the Avs to score in the final minute to win the game. Not the start of a history changing Cup run any of us were hoping for.

The top line tonight was impotent. Do you break them up? I was honestly surprised it didn’t happen mid-game. Seto and Clowe were on fire most of the night, so why not give them a shot with Jumbo Joe to see if you can kick start something? Nah – we’ll just let it play out and see what happens. Didn’t work out so well, did it?

What’s next? It’s tough because the Avs took the Sharks out of their game and prevented their best weapon, the shot from the point. Dan Boyle had no shots on goal tonight. That has to change – find a way to get your quarterback involved. Drive the net. Anderson got the first star tonight, but there were opportunities to be had. He gave up many a PHAT rebound and proved he is prone to the soft goal.  So – you tell me. If you’re San Jose, what changes do you make if any – or do you just chalk it up to dumb luck? I expect the Sharks to adjust and rebound with an effort on Friday that puts the Avs squarely in their 8th place – but that should have happened tonight.

Alright. Time for beer.

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    51 Comments to “One Is The Loneliest Number”

    1. Tom says:

      Seriously Doug, that might be the best write up you have ever written. I couldn’t agree more…

      I’m also surprised line changes didn’t happen too, but somehow I won’t be surprised if they stay the same for Friday though either.

      I’ve said this before I don’t like the hands-off approach that Tmac has with this team. I really dont know how, but I’d light a goddamn flamethrower under some asses right now…

      I recorded the post game and just watched. Bret Hedican (wearing his big ole’ cup ring no less!) called it straight up; just too little effort from too many guys. Honestly, He seemed a little shocked at the overall effort.

      Where was the damn energy guys too? Malhotra and Nichol were quiet.

    2. The Meat Rind says:

      I know he’s generally a tool, but Ek had some good points in his blog tonight: http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eklund/My-Last-Shots-of-the-Nightand-a-plea-to-the-great-fans-of-the-SJ-Sharks/1/27718

      If I were at the tank, having shelled out hard earned dough for season tickets all year and got that intensity from the Sharks, I’d be a boo bird, too. But they have to know we believe in them.

      Don’t they? Will it make any difference?

      • Ian says:

        The irony is that in years past the fans base has been attacked for giving the team but more so the management a free pass. Now when Shark fans are finally a little pissed off and they are bad fans, can’t win. Personally I think its perfectly ok for those people who give the organization a large amount of money to show thier unhappiness.

        Now its a little soon to call the series over but Shark fans shouldn’t just give them a game 1 pass either.

    3. Michael Panov says:

      This isn’t a team that wants the cup. I realize that I’m slowly becoming a bitter sharks fan. It seems to me like the Sharks organization is a bunch of casual, yet skilled hockey players. They just don’t want it.

    4. Patrick says:

      I’m going back and forth between “I can’t believe this team suckered me in again. I HATE HOCKEY” and “it’s only game 1. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey are all favored, and they all lost game 1, too.”

      I’m getting married on Saturday. I’m in an absolutely rotten mood today. Can the Sharks possibly go down 0-2 Friday night and put me in a bad mood for my wedding day? My fiance is already annoyed because I’ve been dropping hints about finding a sports bar in Maui to watch games 3, 4, and (god-willing) 5. She is a blossoming hockey fan, but will never forgive the Sharks if they mess with her wedding and honeymoon. They have to win game 2!

      • Mike says:

        First of all, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials.

        Second of all, I’m with you in the mood thing. But this led to some existential thinking, which tends to happen when the Sharks lose. And maybe I’m writing this to try and convince myself more than anyone else- we need to find a way to wring some calm and enjoyment out of this thing. The reason we are fans is because we love the sport, and it’s fun. Most of the time. It’s unfortunate to admit this, but if the Sharks get swept, it doesn’t really affect the significance (or lack thereof) of my life that much, and the same if they win the next 16. Of course we would much prefer the latter.

        And speaking as a married man who honeymooned in Maui, I implore you to leave it behind. Maui kicks ass, and the last thing you should be doing is worrying about some other shit. Go snorkling.

        • Doug says:

          Congrats Patrick – and avoid that sports bar in Maui brother.

        • Ian says:

          First Grats!

          Second I am with Mike, I had so much silly anxiety about the playoffs coming up to them because a week ago I was almost apathetic to the whole idea now I’m sitting her grumpy as ever. Its not even so much that the Sharks lost but rather this notion that game one is going to decide the whole series. But all in all after its all said and done if the Sharks win, great but if they don’t I’ll just watch the rest of the playoffs and look forward to an interesting summer to do the whole song and dance next year. You get married once, don’t let the horrid play of a bunch of millionaires run what is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a persons life. Its not worth it. Enjoy your honey moon and IF the sharks don’t come through F’ It there is always next year.

          • Ian says:

            Guess that should be Ideally you get Married once lol.

          • Patrick says:

            You guys saying that reminds me of this scene in The Rock (awesome flick):

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh8AO64JKx0

            You guys are Hummel and I’m the marines. Obviously you’re right and I shouldn’t worry about playoff hockey on my honeymoon, but I CANNOT GIVE THAT ORDER! I won’t actually let it affect my mood. I can keep in perspective that it’s a game, and I’m in a beautiful place with a beautiful girl. But I have to at least watch…

            How about a shout-out in the next Pod? Then I can play it for my wife, which I’m sure will mitigate any annoyance on her part.

    5. Andy says:

      Hey Sharks! Hope you read the fine print when you “stole” Heatley:
      “For regular season use only”.

      Heatley’s last playoff appearance? 0g, 1a in four games.

      Obviously, I’m a Sens fan. We miss Dany’s goals, but we don’t miss him. Sorry guys, but you’re going to have to blow up the core if you every want to win any playoffs. Thornton, Heatley and Marleau just don’t have it in them. They just don’t have that extra playoff gear.

      • Ian says:

        You will have to forgive me for enjoying the Irony of a Sens fan preaching what needs to be done for playoff success, since we are after all the Sens of the West.

        • Andy says:

          Choking is when you have great regular seasons and flop every year in the playoffs. Once you don’t flop, you’re not a choker anymore. In the last decade, the Sens have lost a conference final game 7 by 1 goal to eventual champions New Jersey, and gone to the finals. Remind me of the Sharks record? Oh yeah, 4 first round exits, 6 second round exits, and one whole trip to the conference finals, downed handily in 6.

          There was a time when “playoff choke” meant the Senators. Thankfully, the mantle has passed to you. If you want to be the “Sens of the West”, you’re going to have to win at least 12 games in the next few weeks.

          • Tomi says:

            It’s actually 2 first round exits, 5 second round exits, and 1 trip to the conference finals (in the last ten years, anyway), with the sharks only having a top four seed in half of them.

            One interesting thing I think we all forget is that the “choking” reputation was about losing grip of playoff series which the team was leading (Edmonton, Detroit), rather than having a fantastic regular season and then doing nothing in the post-season. We just seem to add them all together in our minds. Anyway, a little perspective maybe? I don’t know, maybe not.

      • Doug says:

        I guess it’s pretty easy to remember Heater’s playoff suckage in 2008 than it is to remember him leading the Sens in playoff scoring when they went to the Stanley Cup in 2007.

        Thanks for stopping by Andy. Oddly enough, you actually made me feel slightly optimistic. Let’s get ready for Game Two.

    6. Tom says:

      That’s good advice Patrick…. Plus I think you and your new bride can find better things to do in Maui than watch hockey!

      Congrats man! Being married is pretty cool…

      as to the booing…(Eklunds article was pretty interesting) we weren’t booing the team at the end. From my vantage point, which was across the arena, there was some interference on Nabby right before the goal. It seemed to be the most horrible call in a series of bad calls. Now I usually don’t complain about officiating after the game is over, but at one point in the game I counted like 4-6 picks by the Avs, in a row, that weren’t called. At the end of that mess people, me included, were beside ourselves.

      In hindsight after watching the replay at home I see why there was no call even though I though there could have been one. But for the record, the whole other side of the rink was booing the refs not the players. I never boo the Sharks.

    7. Andy says:

      Funny you mention it – Heatley tied with Spezza and Alfredsson for the points lead that year – all three had 22. However, Alfredsson had 14 goals, Spezza and Heatley each had 7.

      Let me tell you, as someone who watched those playoffs very closely, for a guy with that many points, Heatley was often a non-factor. Many of those assists were simply from being on the same line with Spezza and Alfredsson (Spezza is more like Thornton, a setup man, so more assists are natural for him). He scored exactly one goal in each of the final two series. His near total absence in the finals is considered a major factor in the loss, especially with Ottawa losing three of four by only 1 goal.

      You may write this off a sour grapes if you like, and I’m certainly still annoyed with him for leaving the way he did, but that simply confirmed the lack of character that many fans in Ottawa already suspected.

      Anyway, he’s all yours. Enjoy, he’ll give you lots of thrilling moments until disappearing every April. At least until he demands another trade – do keep in mind, the NTC went there with him.

      • Evilducks says:

        Actually, the NMC is void here.

        • Andy says:

          Really? Did he waive it? My understanding is that it’s part of the contract, and follows the player. I thought the only way to remove it was for the player to sign a blanket waiver. I would be shocked if Heatley actually did this.

          • Ian says:

            This is all I could find in relation to NTC’s in the CBA, Heaters is only 29… so colour me confused.

            11.2. Individually Negotiated Limitations on Player Movement.

            Contracts entered into on or after a player’s 32nd birthday
            (or his 31st birthday on or after June 30, 1998) may contain a
            no-trade clause. Contracts containing a “no-trade” clause may be
            entered into prior to the player’s 32nd birthday (or his 31st
            birthday on or after June 30, 1998), so long as the fixed term of
            the contract containing the no-trade clause extends through the
            player’s 32nd birthday (or his 31st birthday on or after June 30,
            1998) and the no-trade clause does not become effective until the
            player reaches his 32nd birthday (or his 31st birthday on or
            after June 30, 1998). If the player is traded prior to the
            no-trade clause taking effect, the clause does not bind the
            acquiring Club. The acquiring Club may separately agree to a
            no-trade clause.

            Mike your the smart one… save me :-p

            • Ian says:

              Sorry outdated version of the CBA… LOL!

              Its 11.8 in the new CBA

              Basically the new version says the same thing so because Heaters had is NTC when he came to the Sharks he still has it, the only way a team does not have to honour an NTC is if they get the player before it becomes active. Personally on a total side note if a player opts to move they SHOULD lose their NTC clause after that.

            • Evilducks says:

              I recall Pollak mentioning it in his blog months back.

              Also, if you look at the clauses section of Capgeek he doesn’t appear for the Sharks:

              http://www.capgeek.com/clauses.php?Team=3

            • Ian says:

              Neat stuff Evil, I just wish I could find clause as to why so I could be all cool like its in the CBA with X.Y MOFO!

              Oh thats not cool?

              Damn… :)

      • Patrick says:

        Great points, Andy. Is it too late to trade back? After the one playoff game Heatley has played it’s clear now that Ottawa made a great trade there.

        Anyway, my thoughts on last night’s game:

        The PP Colorado scored on, when I saw the arm go up I thought “god Blake that is such a typical, awful penalty” and then when they showed the replay, turns out it was a horrendous call. Some of the stuff they let go, then to whistle that? It went both ways, though, as they missed two high sticks against SJ, one of which would have been a double minor.

        The Sharks did just a terrible job of adapting to Colorado’s gameplan. Somehow it felt like they were pressuring on the forecheck, trapping in the neutral zone, and supporting each other on Sharks dumpins, all at the same time. It was like they had 6 skaters on the ice. I don’t know how you do all three of the above so effectively without the Sharks being able to exploit the open ice somewhere else, but they did.

        I liked what I saw from Torrey Mitchell and Logan Couture, in the extremely limited ice time they saw.

        Isn’t it kind of weird that Demers had 11 shifts the whole game, yet they would throw him out there on the PK? How can you not trust him enough defensively to take even strength shifts, and then have him kill penalties?

        I hate the fact that the Sharks were trying to adapt to how Colorado plays (with the extremely short shifts all night). Earth to Sharks: you’re the 1-seed. Play how you want to play and make them adapt. It’s like a few years ago when the Warriors upset the Mavs, because the Mavs got into this whole game of trying to match what the Warriors want to do. Who cares what they want to do? You’re the better team.

        Ultimately, we all knew going in that this team is really streaky, and these streaks can start without much warning. I still believe that this game meant very little, and I think the Sharks can (and will) end up owning this series.

        • Andy says:

          Hey, I’m not saying it was a great trade. Ottawa’s GM had a gun to his head. If Heatley had made his request quietly then perhaps a reasonable deal could have been made, but once he went public we were screwed. What a dick.

          • Evilducks says:

            There is no proof that Heatley is the one to leak the deal and not Ottawa’s GM office.

            You got Michalek and Cheechoo in return. Cheechoo’s in the minors and Michalek is injured, which is probably a good thing because it means you can bring up a guy who might produce in the playoffs. If you think Heatley is invisible in the playoffs you managed to find one of the worst offenders on the Sharks to replace him.

            • Andy says:

              There’s no definitive proof, but why would Murray leak it? Masochism? He would have known what position that would put him in.

              Not to mention that Heatley refused to comment, ever. He just disappeared.

              True about Michalek, but was he any worse than Thornton and Marleau? I believe the thinking was that perhaps the culture change could help. Obviously we won’t find that out this year.

              Unfortunately we also lost our guy who only shows up for playoffs.

            • Evilducks says:

              He’s been much worse than Thornton and Marleau actually. Marleau has numbers that are on par with his regular season numbers and Jumbo still scores at just under a point per game and has led our team in scoring in the playoffs every year since he arrived.

              Michalek has done jack all except get injured during the playoffs.

              As far the Ottawa management leaking the story, my theory is that they just have leaks in their office. I thought it was Heatley until the trade details with Edmonton came out, that’s the info you would get from the GM’s office and not Heatley.

            • Mike says:

              I think of it like this: there is almost no benefit to Heatley if he leaked the news that he wanted a trade. There would only be public condemnation for him being a bad teammate, and spitting in the face of Ottawa. Surprise surprise, that’s exactly what happened. Management however, could easily justify a trade by leaking the news. “Hey! Heatley hates the Senators! We HAVE to trade him now!” If that information wasn’t leaked and he was traded for Michalek and Cheech, Brian Murray would look like a fool. He was just covering his ass.

    8. Andy says:

      By the way, I saw you mention Couture – how did he and McGinn do this year? Both played their junior here.

      • Ian says:

        Couture was a nice spark of life when we went on our skid a few weeks ago, There are definite areas where he could improve on his game still but I personally think he has played his last game in the AHL.

        • Tom says:

          I agree in theory Ian.
          Howver if the Sharks lose this series I bet he goes back down to Worster for their run. But I agree he is pretty much a NHLer.

          I got an idea!!

          If the Sharks choke this up, they should send down patty and Jumbo!!

          Of course this can’t happen but it would be hella funny…

          • Ian says:

            Yeah, I realize that he’d definitely go back down if they lose, but the Sharks are NOT losing this series. :)

    9. john says:

      Demers should play over Wallin, we need his slick skating and skill…..

    10. Ed says:

      Gotta break up the top line. I don’t want to see them together again, unless it’s on the power play and even then I’m not sure. I think Big Joe needs to fight somebody too. Like he did against Getzlaf last year but 4 games too late.

      F- the “puck bounces” and the “keep it simple” BS. They need to hit and skate and hit and skate and don’t stop for 60 minutes. They are fooling themselves if they think they can bring that same stuff every night and win a playoff game.

      • Ian says:

        I agree break up the top line and play a full 60 Minutes, no more taking a period off, I still think Sharks in 5.

        The only problem is that Seto, Clowe and Pavs played great so not sure how you break up those 3 when sorting out the top 3.

        • Evilducks says:

          I think Jumbo actually played well, skated hard, had shots on net, it was his linemates that weren’t doing anything. If his linemates can’t shoot a puck how is Jumbo going to get any points?

          I say we go back to the lines we had at the end of the 6 game skid. Completely break up the top line as a motivator to them, and make those 3 lines compete for the top spot.

    11. Tom says:

      So Dudes, what’s the record for the most comments on a post?

      This is #34! nothing fires up Sharks fans more than the annual playoff furball social!!

    12. Chris, from Boston says:

      Just saw a stat and it kind of scared me: The sharks have never won a play-off series when falling behind 0 games to 2. They are 0-7 all time. Ack! Lets win the next one…. please.

    13. Tom says:

      Well Washington lost too!!! I can’t really say other top teams losing had much bearing on the Sharks, but it makes me feel a little better. Just a little, misery loves company!

      Jamie Baker was just on KNBR. I normally think he is too much of a coolaid drinker but his main point might hold true; many of the top teams just weren’t really in PO mode yet… let’s hope the Sharks can get control of this series and their play… quickly.

    14. Ruben says:

      Well the Sharks should have a much better chance tonight, as I won’t be in the building. The Sharks are 0-2 now when I attend a playoff game.

      Other than playing McGinn and Couture more (preferably together) and probably Murray less (he just doesn’t match up well this series). I don’t know what else the coaches can do. It really comes down to player execution. Do or do not, there is no try.

      Oh, and I agree with you guys that it seems far more likely that someone in OTT front office (though surely not the GM) leaked Heatley’s trade demand. I think Heatley is neither a clutch playoff performer nor a choke. He has good stats, looked good in the Oylmpics, is almost absurdly confident in how he plays. He is low on the list of guys whose mental game I am worried about.

    15. Amy says:

      Oh yeah, poor Pheonix. It’s hard to see Detroit and think “lower seed”.

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