October 16th, 2011, 10:29 am
Todd McLellan has mentioned in the press several times that the Sharks had to play a serious game of catch-up last year in the second half. Lolling around at 12th in the West in early January, they had to rip off a massive hot streak in order to secure their 2nd seed playoff position. After all of that emphasis, it seems the Sharks decent start has been held to two periods. After 40 minutes at home versus Phoenix, the Sharks were up 6-1, and just dominating the Coyotes. Since then, the Sharks have been outscored 7-2, and dropped the last two games against teams we think will miss the postseason. Both the Ducks game and the Blues game seemed to have the same symptoms- sloppy passing, not a lot of physicality, and giving the opposition too much space, especially on the power play.
This is just an observation from a guy in the stands, but last night there seemed to be a lot of 5 and 6-foot attempted passes underneath Blue skates and sticks. Many of those passes didn’t work out. A lot of tricky and slick attempts went nowhere, and even turned into scoring chances the other way. Now I go and read the game recap, and T-Mac agrees:
“We weren’t prepared to play a grind-it-out game,” McLellan said. “We wanted to play this fancy puck possession stuff against a team that wanted to grind it out.” Later, he added: “We choose to be the Globetrotters in the first seven or eight minutes of the game, and it doesn’t work that way.”
On the good side, it’s nice to see the fourth line playing quite a bit (Winchester 9:54, Andrew Murray 10:17, Andrew Desjardins 9:54), and the third line, especially Torrey Mitchell, has been good as well. Mitchell had another point last night, and giving him two more points on the season than Joe Thornton (0). Joe especially was a big offender in the Globetrotter department. While he did make several passes that had me scratching my head, wondering how he got that through, he also had several that had me scratching my head, wondering what the hell he was thinking. I guess it’s a fine line. Overall it almost seems as though the Sharks think they have such a talent surplus over the other team that they can not commit as much to the unpleasant parts of the game, like getting hit, forechecking aggressively, and doggedly working the boards and corners. As the Blues and Ducks have both proven the last 48 hours, it just doesn’t work that way in the NHL. Kent Huskins will hurt you with a laser wrist shot.