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

post Will the Sharks Fly High or Have the Blues?

January 13th, 2011, 7:23 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

It’s not like me to use a lot of puns in post titles, but it’s early in the morning, and I’m at San Jose airport waiting for a flight.  Instead of paying $8 for a cup of water, I decided to use the free wifi and do something productive.

The Sharks, through 44 games, are 21-18-5, with 47 points.  Last year at this point, they were 28-9-7 (63).  That’s quite the dropoff.  Instead of going into the myriad reasons why this is so (Mark Purdy’s got a pretty decent theory) I want to compare with some other teams in recent history to see where they might end up at the end of the year.

One is the Philadelphia Flyers.  At this time last year, the veteran Flyers were 22-19-3 (47 points).  They had changed their coach a month before, in early December 2009, and promptly went on a 2-8 tear.  They righted the ship a bit after that, going 6-2 before getting to the 44-game mark.  Of course, we know how the season ends up.  They won on the last day of the season against the Rangers to squeak into the playoffs, and had a historic series against Boston en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Hawks in six games.

The other is the 2010 St. Louis Blues.  This team of young upstarts that made the playoffs in 09-10 skid the first half of 2010, going 18-19-7 (44) in their first 44 games.  Despite decent years from youngsters Perron, Oshie, and Backes, their best player the year before, Brad Boyes, fell off the table, going from 33 goals to 14.  They stayed inconsistent the rest of the year, and finished five points out of the postseason.

So will the Sharks turn it around a la Flyers (perhaps with a new coach, as some fans are already calling for), or struggle with mediocrity the rest of the year, as the Blues did?  I certainly think the Sharks have much more in common with last years’ Flyers than the Blues.  This isn’t a young team trying to find its footing- it’s a veteran team, like Philly, that just couldn’t find a clear path the first half of the year.  That’s not much consolation for Sharks fans at this point, nor is it any sort of guarantee San Jose will get their heads out of their asses and get this thing going the right direction.  But it’s interesting to know the full gambit of options is still available to the Sharks, using only last year as a guide- postseason success is still attainable, but so is crushing disappointment.

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    14 Comments to “Will the Sharks Fly High or Have the Blues?”

    1. MJ says:

      they have no choice but to turn it around. the fans have been in “heads must roll” mode for too many seasons now.

      start putting up the W’s or start cleaning out your locker…or desk, for that matter. there is no wiggle room.

    2. Ivan M says:

      That is rather depressing. I sure hope we don’t have to go to shootouts just to make playoffs. Luckily there’s enough time to turn it around. The West is really deep this year and there’s so little point separation. As bad as the Sharks were in 2011, we’re still just 3 points out of the playoffs.

      The Oilers tonight. Time to make it happen.

    3. AdamandEvildoug says:

      But the Flyers probably really were the best roster in the east, and the 2nd best in the league behind Chicago. They didn’t have glaring weaknesses like the Sharks. And their forward group wasn’t just a bunch of big clumsy dudes who all do the exact same things. For every gritty Hartnell type, or Mike Richards as grit/skill player, you had a Simon Gagne, a Claude Giroux. Whether their forwards player to player were actually “better” than ours, that’s not really the point. What they were/are is much more versatile. They can score different ways, not just off the cycle. It’s not like with the Sharks where if you stop their cycle and block their shots from the points, they won’t score. With Philly, you might stop their cycle and their point shots, but at any moment Giroux might rush the puck the length of the ice and score some highlight reel goal. That is something you can’t say of the Sharks forwards.

      And defense wise, there was never any question. The flyers were/are much superior.

      So the difference is, last year we had a flyers team that was truly underachieving. They had more talent than where they were, but weren’t doing the little things, weren’t working hard enough, weren’t focused. Whereas the Sharks, they’re a team that’s always been good specifically because they excelled at all the little things (best faceoff team, great PK, never gave up odd man rushes, etc), and that will and attention to detail was enough to overcome their deficiencies in the talent department. This year they’re still the 2nd best faceoff team, but they’re not quite as dominant. The team just has fallen back to where they should be. When I look at the teams ahead of them, I’m not seeing any team that you can really say, “well the Sharks are better than that team. They should be ahead of them.” It’s just not there. Vancouver, Detroit, Dallas, these teams speak for themselves. San Jose clearly isn’t better than. We’re more talented than Nashvile offensively, but they’re much better at defense. it evens outs. Anaheim isn’t quite as deep as us, but they have better top end talent, and their top 3 defenseman are better than our top 3. i don’t see that we innately should be ahead of them. Phoenix… Well we should be ahead of Phoenix. Chicago, we’ve beat them three times, but twice with Marty Turco in net. They certainly weren’t in front of us and didn’t deserve to be while Turco was their starter. Now that they’re not letting in 2 weak goals per game they’re obviously a more talented team than us up and down. Even if their forward group was only half as good as ours, which thats not the case, the fact that their top 4 defensemen, Keith, Seabrook, Campbell, and Hjalmarsson, are more than twice as good as ours, would make them the better team. Colorado… this team is maybe twice as skilled as we are. They just fly all over the place. They can score any way. They can do anything. Their defense is terrible. But I don’t see that we should be ahead of them. They’re much faster and more skilled than we are. Los Angeles, I don’t see that we are better than them. They’re much better defensively than we are. They have quality guys like Simmonds and Ponikarovsky on their bottom lines. Better depth than us. Kopitar outplays all three of our big star forwards single handedly most times we play. Minnesota I’ve already covered. They have three quality puckmovers to our one, and their top end talent is better than ours. After that we’re at 11. Then there’s St Louis. A healthy St Louis was first in the conference earlier this year. Great defensively and Perron and company are all skilled two-way players. They have more mobility on their back end than we do, with Pietrangelo and E Johnson. Even Columbus is 2-1 against us. Stralman outplayed Boyle in those games for the most part. Rick Nash outplayed all three of our stars single-handedly in the last game, just like most real star players do against our fake ones.

      We could very well make the playoffs. Before the Toronto game, when teams were trying to come back against us in 3rd periods this season, we hadn’t taken a single penalty all season in those comebacks. That makes it so much harder for teams to come back. Whereas, us, remember that Philly comeback? we got handed multiple power plays to come back in so many games. We start with the puck more than anyone but Vancouver, a huge advantage. We have the highest ratio of powerplays to penalty kills in the entire western conference, a m o n u m e n t a l advantage. We have absolutely everything in our favor. We have every advantage. We probably should be in 14th right now only ahead of Edmonton based on our play, but we’ve gotten juts so many breaks over and over again, which is why we’ve ascended to 11th. And if those breaks keep coming in spades, we could very well make the playoffs. but are we a playoff team on talent? Do we deserve the playoffs ahead of any of the teams in front of us besides Phoenix? Certainly not.

      • Joe579 says:

        Ok, this team sucks, let’s just all jump off a bridge. The end. Also dude, find a new hobby, I grow tired of having to waste my bandwidth loading your comments and my finger joints scrolling through them.

    4. AdamandEvildoug says:

      Let me just repeat that guys.

      We get the the most powerplay opportunities to the least amount of penalty kills than ANYONE ELSE in the western conference, but we are still 11th in the conference, despite that huge advantage. If that doesn’t tell you how bad we really are at actual fair 5 on 5 play… I mean we’re lucky to be in 11th. Can you imagine if we took as many penalties as we got powerplays, like so many other teams do (yet still win games)? We really would be in 14th.

      • Ruben says:

        Those are all very interesting stats, but you stop at the most important part. So what do you think is missing? What , 5v5, should the Sharks do better? Is this an “intangibles” argument? If so, then there isn’t much else to say. There are many players who took years to become winners (Steve Yzerman, Alex Rodriguez, John Elway) and many more who never overcame that. That’s more of a narrative than a solution or workable description of the problem.

        I think it comes down to simply putting the puck in the net, but there are so many variables that a player can’t control when it comes to scoring goals. I’ve always felt you can only hold the players accountable for things they can control. Is their shot quality down (and, does that even matter)? They are shooting the lights out, at least. Is their pass % down? Is their 1st pass out of the zone % down? They LOOK slower, but I certainly haven’t taken a stopwatch to them. They LOOK like they are losing battles, but I haven’t actually counted.

        Is it random variance, in that this is just one of those stretches where the goals aren’t going in? Something deeper they aren’t doing? What is it?

    5. AdamandEvildoug says:

      Ivan
      We’re just lucky this is the NHL with 8 playoff seeds in each conference, where below average nhl teams are “playoff teams” in each conference. If this were baseball we’d basically already be through.

    6. Tom says:

      Here’s some quotes to bring some perspective… Choose your poison…

      “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”  ~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

      Or…

      “Rock bottom is good solid ground, and a dead end street is just a place to turn around.” ~ Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb, “Rock Bottom”

      Or…

      “God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.”  ~ John Aughey

      But I like…

      “Cheer up, the worst is yet to come.” ~ Philander Johnson

    7. Tom says:

      In all seriousness, Id like to comment on and question this attitude or belief we should “stay the course”…

      I’ve been sitting here trying to think about other times when the Sharks have been in similar situations.

      The most recent is of course last year’s 0-6 run in March that had us all freaked out. But, they got it together and went on a pretty strong PO run….

      Drew Remenda asked Tmac last night after the game about Detroit’s 0-10 run, the year the won the cup… Tmac’s response to me is telling because he wouldn’t allow the comparison. And frankly I can’t either. As with last year’s 0-6 run and Detroit’s 0-10 run, both teams had demonstrated something very different at times in their respective seasons.

      This team has not. They have been terribly inconsistent and average. I think the season stats reflect that and the overall “feel” of the team does as well…

      The only situation that seems relevant and similar to me is the 0-10 run the Sharks went on early in the 2005-2006 season, which of course triggered the Joe Thornton trade.

      I really think this is going to get worse, because this losing streak right now seems like a total implosion into the bad habits, low motivation, and general apathy this year’s team has struggled with ALL YEAR. And, I do not believe they will suddenly pull out of it by “trying harder” or getting their game in order, or by simply “staying the course”… Tmac’s post game interview last night showed that he is struggling to come up with a way to jumpstart this team.

      As this point I no longer believe that anything other than a major shake-up will get these guys going. Unfortunately for Tmac, firing the coach not only has a recent record of being effective in these situations but is much, much easier than trading away the whole core. And according to the interview with Doug Wilson last night on Shark Byte, DW still believes that they have a window of opportunity to win a cup over the next “three or four years’…. which is an obvious reference to the fact he has the team core pretty much locked up over that span. That indicates to me that for the foreseeable future anyways, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Danny Heatley, and Dan Boyle ARENT GOING ANYWHERE….

      I hate it…. and I hope im horribly wrong… but something has to give at some point….

      Unless of course we’re satisfied with becoming the Ottawa Senators.

    8. Matt Caffeine says:

      I see another loss on the horizon. I see TMAC talking big, and executing half measures which will accomplish nothing. I don’t necessarily blame him, since he doesn’t have full control over this situation.

      Ideally, I think they should give Dan Boyle a break, not for lack of effort, but before they kill him. Bench the top line, call up a the regular Woosta players, and roll with 4 lines for a few games. I’m sick of seeing the 4th line wasted on the bench. Playing 3 lines is a waste of roster space, and overworks the rest of the team. TMac claims it’s a lack of confidence on the 4th line, but we do see how wonderfully the top line performs. A collective -20 or so, and a handful goals in the last 10 games, is not what should inspire confidence.

      Calling for more shots is just as stupid. We see them take 40+ shots a game, and still have problems scoring. Forget this shoot first mentality, it’s not working with the effort being given. There is no support in front of the net for rebounds, shots are constantly getting blocked. And waiting for that perfect shooting lane makes for the easiest saves a goalie can make. I would happily take wide open point shots all day long, especially when rebounds are cleared away with such ease by the defense in front of me.

    9. AdamandEvildougg says:

      I just hate, and don’t agree with, the sentiment that this team just isn’t trying, and that’s why they suck right now. This team just lost five in a row, everyone hates them, their playoff lives are on the line, their reputations are on the line, they may get traded if they continue to perform poorly, but people think they decided not to try in Edmonton? Like they were just like, “yeah, we’ve lost 5 straight. So what? I’m happy to lose tonight. I don’t care. I’m not going to try. It’s not like anything is on the line for me.”

      Of course they were trying. You can tell they want nothing more than to win. They are just getting beat. People, DW included, always point to, “when this team decided to try, we beat Detroit in Detroit, we beat Philly in Philly, we beat Chicago 3x, we beat LA twice…”

      Okay, Detroit dominated us in the first game, which we loss. Then, the game we supposed were trying, they still dominated us that first period, when they were on their game. They were up 1-0, and they scored a 2nd goal, but it got called off. Instead of 2-0, it was 1-0. We got so lucky. If it went 2-0, hey would may still of come back, but the game just as easily could have spiraled out of control. But instead we tied the game 1-1, they made it 2-1 later, and they stopped playing the next two periods, and we came back and won. Hardly an example of us being as good as anyone when we’re trying. Maybe they just stopped trying? Maybe we just got all the breaks, and they had a bad last two periods?

      Philly… they were up on us 4-1. They completely dominated us. When we bring it, and we try our hardest, Philly dominated us. That’s the lesson there, with 10 minutes left in the game. We weer dominated for 50 minutes, when bringing it. But because of the last 10 minutes, the whole narrative changes. Now DW looks back on it like it says something about our team. With a 3 goal lead and 10 minutes left, if Philly plays a smart final 10 minutes, the clock runs out, and they win the game. Instead, they take stupid penalty after stupid penalty. Cross checks into the boards, stuff like that. No way this 5 on 5 challenged team scores 3 goals 5 on 5 against Chris Pronger and co. But we got powerplays, and we scored on them. So because our PP was clicking in the final 10 minutes of a game we got dominated, all of a sudden that means, “well, when we bring it, we can beat anyone”? No! It means, when another team takes stupid penalties, even if they’re a good team, and our powerplay is clicking, we have a chance at beating them, same as anyone else. That’s true for anyone. It doesn’t mean the Sharks are as good as Philly when they bring it, they just need to try.

      3 wins against CHicago. They’ve been a 500% team all year. 2 of those wins came against the worst goalie in the league. The other one, Crawford let in a really weak game winner. He tried to stop a puck that was an inch off the ground with his glove, instead of using his pad. Their 5-6 D, Boynton and Cullimore, are the worst in the NHL. They’re not an elite team. Beating them is not evidence of “hanging with anyone.”

      2 wins vs L.A. Clearly they’re not as good as peopel thought either. Look where they are in the standings. They’realso extremely inconsistent. Sometimes you catch them when they’re playing well, and sometimes you don’t. when they played well, they played really well. They completey dominated us and beat us. When they weren’t playing well, we beat them 6-3. And the other win vs them, they outplayed us just like they did in their 4-0 win, except we got that first goal, then we could sit back, and we won it 1-0. Hardly examples of rising to the occasion. For every one of these examples, we have losses to Vancouver, getting dominated vs Detroit in that first game, being shut out by St Louis when they weer on top of the West, and still relatively healthy. We’re 1-2 vs Dallas, although one was a shootout loss. Then again our only win was courtesy of a 4 minute 4-3 virtue of overtime, and there isn’t 4-4 overtime in the playoffs either.

      i mean, Columbus is beating Detroit 2-0 right now. Does that mean that if Columbus just tried, they can beat anyone on any given night? Who hasn’t beaten one of Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago, or Philadephia? Edmonton has beaten Chicago twice. I guess when they jsut try, they’re an elite team, no?

      The point is, anyone can beat anyone on any given night. That doesn’t mean you’re as good as anyone, just because you beat them. That doesn’t mean you’re trying harder vs the name opponents. San Jose is 3-1 vs Edmonton. Is that because they got all excited for the Edmonton games more than the ones vs Vancouver, which they lost? No. It’s because they’re better. But every once in awhile, the inferior team wins. That’s why it’s 3-1, not 4-0. That’s why SJ beat Philadelphia. Everything went their way. They got all the powerplays exactly when they needed them in order to make that comeback. But that doesn’t make San Jose as good as Philadelphia.

      San Jose definitely can beat anyone on any given night. So can Edmonton. So can the Islanders, who recently beat Pittsburgh. Anyone can beat anyone any given night. But over a 7 game series, it’s an entirely different story. If the best team always won every game, there would be no need for a 7 game series. But over the course of any one game, things can just happen.

      The truth is, the Sharks aren’t where they are for lack of effort, or focus. The truth is, in terms of ability throughout the roster, in terms of quality, the Sharks are probably the 6th or 7th best team in the conference. However, that does not mean they are ahead of 8 other teams. They are 6th or 7th, but they are tied at 6th or 7th with maybe 5 other teams. Is Nashville really better than San Jose? Well, they’re 2-0 vs San Jose so far this season. But it could eaisly be 2-2 by the end of the season. I don’t see that they’re clearly better than San Jose. But is San Jose clearly better than them? What about Minnesota? I would say they are clearly better than San Jose talent wise, but they are a team that really doesn’t bring it every night. A healthy St Louis? They might be better, but… the point is, they’re all very close to each other, and who coems out on top, it could just be the bounces that determine that. A few bounces go a different way, and the Sharks could be 6th in the west, and no one would be panicking, but the team would be exactly the same. A few less pp opportunites at opportune times, and the Sharks could be 14th, and people would be panicking more. I don’t think you can be reactive like that. This is a mediocre team. They might ascend to 2nd in their division, or they might end up 14th in the conference. I just think either way we shouldn’t lose sight of their mediocrity. Let’s not let the standings dictate how we view them. Let’s judge them on their talent level, their merits, alone, the ability instead of the result. If Dubnyk played awful last night and let in every shot, the score would have been 40-4, and it would have bene a record, and people would be saying how amazing the Sharks are, when really, the actual performance the sharks put together, it would just be the exact same as the one people are complaining about now, becuase Dubnyk played like an average NHL goaltender. That’s just an example of how results skew the perception. That vancouver game, their goalie fell down and let in a go-ahead goal… the Shrks could have won that because of that, and people would have talked about how the Sharks can bring it when they want to, how the Canucks can be beaten… The results are obviously important for the playoffs, but when we’re determing how good this team actually is, try not to let the results factor into that. They’re slpw. They can’t string 3 passes together (just try counting next game). They don’t do anything creative. That’s what shuould tell you they’re mediocre. It’s what told me they were mediocre when they were 1st in the conference. Don’t pay ttention to the standings, or Doug Wilson’s BS about “we can beat anyone on every night.” Just remember that edmonton beat chicago twice, and Columbus is leading Detroit 2-0 right now.

    10. AdamandEvildougg says:

      vs edmonton

    11. Tom says:

      One great thing about DW is that 99.9% of the time (Antii Niemi aside…) he does what he says and is upfront with the media…

      Per P. LeBrun…(link below) According to DW, Tmac not bring fired and his job is safe. Interesting.

      http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/3592/weekend-wrap-teams-going-overseas-cloustons-future-sharks-coaching

      Sure seems like DW is throwing in his lot with the future of this team because if we miss the PO’s with this roster and DW does nothing…. well, I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we get there… But I would be devastated to lose an awesome GM due to the players not knowing the difference between their asses and a hole in the ground…

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