Now, that was a fun game. I am really loving the NHL this year, except for this “sharks lose again” part. But at least they’re making it interesting. This team was fired up, ready, played hard, played well. Mostly.
The key exceptions that stood out: nabokov. something’s wrong. period. He’s not seeing the long rising shot, or he’s not reacting to it, or something. Beyond that, there are times when he seems to stop and ends up watching a goal go in — brain cramp? second guessing? worried about injuring his shoulder again? shoulder still hurt? I don’t know, but there’s always times during games where he simply seems to zone out and bad things happen, soft goals, or simply a slow reaction (or no reaction at all). He seems tentative. the rest of the time, he looks increasingly good, don’t get me wrong, but there are these lapses/gaps.
What’s this? the forwards on the ice for the regular strength goals. See a trend here?
A lot of people seem to be talking about “lack of veteran leadership”, which is code for — hell, I don’t know, either. “something’s wrong and I can’t say what it is, so we’ll blame something really vague”, I guess. Even Barry Melrose has hauled that one out.
To me, the problem isn’t leadership. It might be depth at forward. we definitely have issues in goal (why aren’t we playing Schaeffer? there seems to be some feeling that if they can’t “fix” nabokov, it doesn’t matter, maybe? — there clearly seems to be a feeling that Schaeffer started hot, but isn’t (yet?) the long-term answer).
But at center? Marleau (the captain) — point a game, won 60% of his faceoffs (McCauley was better).
Goc won 35%.
This is why I don’t see it as veteran leadership. Veteran leadership won’t keep Nabokov from a softie (or two) a game, or merely letting in a decent shot he should have had. Veteran leadership won’t deal with the fact that we have one great line (Marleau’s) and one decent line, and we’re struggling at forward after that. Goc, Michalek, Thornton, Ekman. Stevenson’s up here because they’re looking for someone who can get the job done up here — and last night, he was on ice for three goals. I like what I see — but the red wings just ate that line alive last night.
Ekman’s been a huge disappointment. Goc, Michalek are showing youthful inconsistency.
Do we need to shake things up? I acn buy into that — find a good veteran forward. But do it because our forward depth just isn’t good enough, not because we need veteran leadership. WE have kids trying to grow into roles that are showing they aren’t quite up to it, and one guy (ekman) who doesn’t deserve a roster spot, and a couple of other guys (thornton and McAuley) who were in that same doghouse, but are finally playing their way out.
So I don’t see a leadership issue. I see an issue of consistent execution. Part of that is we have kids being asked to do too much, and part of that is we have passengers watching; Nabokov at times, and Ekman. So go find a top 9 forward and bring him in. Give him Ekman’s roster spot, let Ekman go annoy someone other than me for a while. But do it becaues we realize the forwards can’t get the job done, not some “veteran leadership” thing.