November 30th, 2011, 9:13 am
After a nice run where the Sharks managed to accumulate the best points-per-game rate of any team in the NHL, the lean times have come in two bad losses in the last two games. And frankly, if it were not for the near-goalie-steal performance of Antti Niemi against the Hawks, we’d be looking at a 3 game losing streak, disturbingly to the class of the West. I can never really decide if losing to the best teams is better to losing to the worst teams. Which is worse, irritating inconsistency (losing to Columbus) or depressing mediocrity (losing to Vancouver)?
The famine is not without casualties. First and foremost is Justin Braun, who Pollak said “was reassigned to Worcester less than 24 hours after his misplay cost San Jose a goal in Monday’s loss.” I suppose it’s possible that particular blunder led to his demotion, but I don’t buy it (wasn’t it Niemi’s fault more than his?). As we’ve said on the podcast several times, Braun is a good young defenseman that you want to play early and often, and continue to develop his game. If he’s clearly head-and-shoulders better than his offensive contemporary, Jason Demers, then you keep him in San Jose. With Demers playing more the last few games, and Braun not playing quite as well, Braun would fall into the mixing bowl that is the 3rd defensive pair. Which means he’s in, he’s out, he doesn’t get consistent minutes. Which means I agree with the decision to send him East to the struggling Worchester Sharks. Lord knows they need all the help they can get over there.
The next two games might be what the doctor ordered. Neither Montreal nor Florida are patsies, but they are not in the same conversation as Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Doug and I are going to wait until the weekend to record the next podcast, mostly due to scheduling, but we’re hoping for a good effort against the Habs to help balance what would have likely been a negative-Nancy episode.