I'd Better Be Clear
After having a day to think about it, and receiving a couple emails from angered Sharks fans, I feel like I need to clarify what I said about last night's game and the Sharks in general. Don't worry, I'm not going to back down from anything I said. I just could flesh it out a bit better.
Do I think last night was just a routine win? No, I don't. It was the seventh game of an extended trip beating another NHL power in their building for the third straight time. It is a landmark? No, it's not that either. But it's more than a home win over Columbus, and I doubt anyone would disagree with that. Generally, the losing side always goes to the "It's just one of 82" line, and so it was last night. Does that win mean the Hawks will win the Cup? No, of course not, and I didn't say that. But that's what people think, and they're welcome to that.
Do I think that game means the Sharks won't win? No, not that game. But I think that game demonstrates why I and a lot of others don't think they will. Let's review. The Sharks were off since Saturday. That's four days off. Four days of preparation. After the 7-2 humbling, you can't tell me the Sharks were looking at this game as just another on the calendar. Was it Game 7 of the Conference Finals? No, but it was a big game, and all the Sharks fans said so beforehand. You would think in a game like this you would come out breathing fire and crapping lightning, and Todd McClellan would turn into a tiny old Philadelphian behind the bench. You're in your house and trying to prove a point. If the positions were reversed, do you think the Hawks would come out tentative in the UC? Unlikely. But the Sharks did. And they got quickly rolled over during that time.
However, the Sharks showed what they are capable of. The entire middle of the game was theirs. There's no denying that. But where was this at the start? Furthermore, once the game was tied, where was it? Were they just settling for a point in the regular season? The Tank was rocking, the Hawks were on their heels, isn't that when you go for the kill? If the Hawks had stormed back from three down at home, would they disappear? We know the answer to that, we've seen it. It's a difference between the two.
More over, last night you saw Patrick Kane take a game by the scruff on the neck. He set up the first goal, and could easily have had three or four assists and maybe a goal. Has Joe Thornton ever done that when it mattered? We know Toews can as well. That's another.
That said, Joe Pavelski has the mindset. He's a killer. No matter what happens this spring, the Sharks should hand the "C" to him next season (and some of my dreams involve the Hawks finding a way to poach him when he's restricted this summer. Though it's nigh-on impossible). But can the Sharks get where they want to go when their #2 center is the killer? Is he good enough? Is he good enough to get past a team where Toews, Kane, Keith, and Seabrook are going to be slobbering at the mouth every game? I don't see it. Tell me if I'm wrong.
-There's a member of this blog, a reader, who embarrassed all of us at the Sharks blog last night. Kids, we love it when you go over to other blogs and engage those readers. For the most part, you demonstrate perfectly what we do here. You're bright, funny, and encourage a back-and-forth . We ask that you continue to do so. Except for you Red Tribe, you're not really welcome here or anywhere any more. We're not here to pick fights and act like a moron.
-Oh, I remember the other thing I wanted to mention. There's been much conversation, and some consternation, about what will happen when Fabulous Weapon returns. Clearly, there will be a logjam. I've seen some suggest they'd hate to see Brouwer moved off the line with Daydream Nation. Remember though, Brouwer was playing well and scoring when he was skating with Iron Madden and getting his power play time, so I wouldn't be heartbroken if he had to move. Secondly, though Sharp has really changed his game around to center for Hossa, I wouldn't want to see him do that when he goes back to wing. That leads to Sharp and Hossa not quite syncing up as wingers on the same line, as they really want to do the same things and go to the same spots. In my mind I'd like to see Sharp return to Kane's wing (where he potted 36 goals not so long ago, mind), and Brouwer slide down to play with Hoss-Bolla. Troy can provide everything Ladd has on that line with better scoring touch, and Ladd can move back to his checking role with Madden, where they were excellent early in the year. One of Versteeg and Buff will have to go to the 4th line, and I really don't care which. Both are clearly far too good for that role, but that's where we find ourselves now.
-Fifth Feather today mentioned about how Toews drew the Thornton assignment last night, and whether that indicated either Coach Q is trying to conserve Madden's energy for the playoffs, or doesn't think he's up to being the main checking guy. In my mind, it's neither. I think Q was just seeing if Toews's line could function in that role. There will come a time when on the road in the playoffs where Q will not get his matchups, and he needs to know that if Toews and Kane are facing the other team's biggest threat, they can come through. Consider the first test well passed. We saw this at the end of the game in Edmonton when it was Campbell and Hammer out there for the last minute. They might as well get the reps in now, so they're ready when it counts.