Can you imagine the NFL season being 32 games in 68 days? That's the equivalent of this short season where teams are playing 48 intense, pressure filled games in 99 days.
Anyone who expects the players to be at their best for that many games in such a short time period with all the travel has never seen a game played at ice level --- or played in a short NHL season before. It's fast, it's physical and the bumps and bruises add up.
The Sharks have laid an egg twice this year - in Columbus and in Calgary, otherwise they have competed in every game. In Columbus they looked mentally unprepared to battle - it happens!. In Calgary they were working hard but they had no legs and couldn't get to the places their brains told them to go to, it happens! Playing the night before and traveling on game day is not an excuse, it's an explanation.
We are exactly at the halfway point of this truncated (love that word by the way) season. The Sharks are truly a half is glass full, glass is half empty team depending on how you want to analyze them.
Stingy defense with great goaltending or a team that can't score? The Sharks are currently in 7th place, 2 points out of 4th and 6 points away from 15th. The schedule gets even tougher the last month and a half and it will be a wild ride to the finish.
This short season sure beats the non-season in 2004/05. I can't wait to get the 2nd half of this season going and the opponent is perfect, the St. Louis Blues, the team who knocked the Sharks out of the playoffs last year.
Tonight should be a good game and then it's back to back with our SoCal rivals and the defending Stanley Cup Champions - what a great week for hockey.
- I like the new proposed re-alignment from the Sharks standpoint. In their division are 3 teams from Canada; Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. These cities are all hockey hotbeds and fun to visit, not to mention some good rivalries. Makes for a great road trip for any hockey fan looking to see Sharks hockey on the road.
- The Sharks and Blues both have 26 points, with the Sharks having 1 game in hand. Makes for an awesome matchup on Saturday at 1pm at HP Pavilion. This will be an intense, physical game and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Sharks respond after the loss in Calgary, not to mention these two teams meet again on Tuesday in St. Louis.
- After the game the Sharks hit the road for Colorado where they play on Sunday and start a span of 7 games out of the next 8 on the road. We knew this tough schedule would be a grind and it is.
- Hard to believe that we are almost as the halfway mark (24 games) for the season. Even more incredible is the fact Chicago has played 24 games, or half their season, and still has not lost in regulation.
- Parity is great for the fans but the coaches are all scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get even the slightest edge to help them gain some ground in the standings.
Enjoy the games this weekend!
Maybe the reason the Sharks are struggling offensively is the team is in transition. I say that because this version of the Sharks has had a total team commitment to team defense. The goaltending has been great and pretty much every player is sacrificing in some way for the collective whole, from a defense first standpoint. Here are the facts:
Goals Against Per Game: 2.05 3rd NHL
Penalty Killing: 86.7% 4th NHL
Given up 2 or less goals in a game: 14x (8-2-4)
5-5 Goals Against: 25
Defense wins championships and this year the Sharks are playing as well defensively as I have seem in a long time. Remember the LA Kings struggled last year to score but built the foundation of team defense, solid PK and great goaltending during the regular season and their playoff ride was pretty decent to say the least.
Good test this week as the Sharks head to Canada to play back to back games against Vancouver and Calgary.
The game just started, and the start was great
Havlat created the turnover, using his skate
Jumbo got the puck, he's like a big elf
He passes to Cooch, who scores top shelf
Niemi was stellar, as was the PK
The players were prepared, they worked hard all day
Burish and Sheppard, did great work down low
Galliardi was 1st star, and knew where to go
The home cooking was needed, it took away some stings
The 2 points are in the bank, now bring on the Wings
- A li'l poem from Bakes
"We're either an efficient team that can be real effective, or we're inefficient and we lose games. So the next little bit will tell us what we really are." - Todd McLellan
The Blackhawks have beaten the Sharks twice this season, both in regulation.
The Blackhawks are the best team in the NHL with a record of 13-0-3 and can set the NHL record for the best start to a season if the Sharks don't win in regulation.
This Blackhawks are motivated, and rested, because they too haven't played since Tuesday.
Per McLellan's quote we'll get an idea of what the Sharks team is made of.
And clearly the Hawks are a better team right now and there is much work to be done with time to do it.
You beat the top team in their rink when they were rested and motivated which makes a statement that the Sharks are a team to be reckoned with.
There are certain losses that sting more than others. Losing to Chicago on a Friday night at the Madhouse on Madison by a score of 4-1, in a game the captain fought the other team's captain, won the fight and drew 4 minutes of PP time that was squandered ... stings.
I thought frustration and a loss of confidence was evident for the first time this year. While the media plays on the 7 up, 7 down roller coaster the players have to focus on playing for each other and beat a Blues team that has also been inconsistent this year.
The media can talk about the losing the streak but the Sharks need to come together to beat the team that ousted them in the playoffs last year - the gritty tough St. Louis Blues. This is a great opportunity for the team to end the slump and regain their confidence.
And so it goes ...
It's Feb 13. The Sharks have played 13 games. I used to wear #13. What does this mean?
Nothing! Zero! Zilch! And that's the problem right now, too many zeros. The Sharks have been shutout two of the last three games, but to their credit have earned a point each time because they too pitched shutouts, at least in regulation time.
The Sharks have scored 11 goals in eight games so it's not hard to figure out what needs to be done - score more goals. I'll say this, scoring woes now are not the end of the world… just ask the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings.
The short, intense schedule will be a roller coaster the entire time. Enjoy the ride, even the bumpy parts because it's all part of the process of trying to make the playoffs and peak at the right time.
That's my thought for the day. Now I'm going to enjoy a slice of Chi-town.