It’s that time of the year when fans start worrying. I’ve gotten a number of emails and IM’s asking me what I thought was wrong with the Sharks.
I knew the hot start wasn’t sustainable. Well, we’re into that “not sustainable” part. Teams that play “too well” can get into bad habits, and those can make life difficult when the wins stop. The Sharks got into some bad habits, but nothing too serious. The big problem I see with them is a tendency to play to the level of the other team — and they’ve pulled a lot of games out in the third period. right now, the bounces aren’t going their way, and they’re losing some of those.
When it works, we call it “pacing ourselves for the playoffs”, and it’s a mild annoyance. When it doesn’t, it’s called a lot of things, most of them unprintable, but “not being ready for the game” is a common one. Soft starts and digging holes early, and right now, they’re not digging out of them well enough.
the injuries on the third and fourth lines are tough; add in injuries to Blake (broken jaw), Lukowich (sports hernia) and Boyle (wrist) — which have all ben played through to some degree or another, but still affect their games — and the team’s depth has been tested. it’s held up quite well, actually (I am still seriously impressed by Semenov in his fole), but there’s little margin of error in the western conference.
All in all, though, this is the “mid season” blahs, accentuated by some injuries. It’s not like the team’s sucked, it’s merely moved to pretty good. They’ve lost a few, but I see that as a good thing, in that it’ll hopefully help the refocus on the details of the system that have slipped by — and even with the recent struggle, they’ve still taken 11 points in the last ten games. This “slump” is still better than many sharks seasons I’ve watched.
And if you look around the league, similar complaints are being lodged at the Red Wings (two 8 goal allowed losses!, Dallas , Chicago, Boston, Washington and Montreal. At the same time, teams that struggled early, like Toronto and Pittsburgh, vanvouver and Nashville, have come on and are making it a playoff fight.
This kind of adversity can help the sharks; it’s bad for a team to decide winning is “easy”, because in the playoffs, it won’t e, no matter who you play. They’ll figure it out; assuming they get healthy, they’ll be fine. I don’t want to see this go on for another two weeks (if it does, I’ll start worrying), but so far, this is about what you should expect over a season. Rough patches happen. you play well the other times, and it balances out. Playinb well going into the playoffs is huge, though, so I’m a lot happier with a team than finishes well than one that plays well in November, so it’s time to see the Sharks start that solid finish.
but the biggest issue with the Sharks is lack of scoring on the third and fourth line. the secondary contributions have dried up. Where are the injuries? On the third and fourth line. Will the injuries impact us in the playoffs? I sure hope not, and the additions at the trade deadline definitely help.
So I’m not worried. Well, not yet.