McCarthy: Wow it certainly feels great to be back in America
Huskins: How come?
McCarthy: Well everything is all backwards in Sweden. I mean I think they're on the metric system so their meter is like three of our feet. Its astounding. Luckily we only have to play 20 minutes tonight
Huskins: Are you sure? We didn't do that last year...
McCarthy: Think about it man: one of their meters is three of our feet, so one of their minutes must be three of ours. So I think they made a mistake by letting us play 60 minutes in Stockholm because it should have only been 20! We played 180 American minutes! I assume they'll remedy that mistake by shortening our game tonight to 20 for the next few games.
Huskins: My god...that's brilliant
McCarthy: I'll go tell the others
Unfortunately I would not surprised if a conversation like that occurred at some point before the game; and even more unfortunately, I was at the game tonight. It was evident that the team was only prepared to play 20 minutes. After an energetic unfurling of the banners of our accolades and introduction of the players, the tank was buzzing and waiting to see their Sharks go off on the Thrashers. After a sluggish first few minutes, the tank came alive when Heatley put in his first of the year and Clowe redirected a shot for a goal 21 seconds later. Two goals in the span of 21 seconds had the tank on its feet. The sharks returned to their locker rooms and were cheered loudly. That's when things got bad.
It was very possible that Todd Mclellen walked into the locker room during first intermission and found half of his team already in the showers. Startled that the game was indeed still 60 minutes long, the Sharks put their pads and jerseys back on and skated back out there. Sharks looked like they had a little steam left from the first, drawing a penalty in the opening minutes. However, Marleau mishandled the puck at the point allowing Bryan Little to take a fast break, put a puck on net and allow Andrew Ladd to slide the puck in an empty net. It was at this point that the team went downhill and could never recover.
I don't think we'll see John McCarthy again anytime soon. A weak dump allowed a turnover in the neutral zone, the Thrashers countered quickly and Anthony Steward blazed a slapshot by Niemi. If McCarthy puts that puck deep like he's supposed to, that goal doesn't happen. This is a game of inches, and you can't use the little ice time you get handling the puck like that when your team needs a change.
The fans of HP Pavillion proved tonight that the "noise meter" on the screen cannot actually read decibels because it was fluctuating around 100 dBs and I guarantee I have never heard the tank so quiet before.
I have no idea what Mclellen said to the boys during second intermission but it must have been something along the lines of "12 orphans just died in a bus accident...now go out and get em'", because the Sharks came out looking even less motivated and composed than before. We spent the first 5 or 6 minutes of the period COMPLETELY in our zone and were getting badly out-shot. Passes were going between the feet instead of to the stick, and communication in the defensive zone. The crowd finally started getting back in the game midway through the period...then Dany Heatley takes an interference penalty and Atlanta capitalizes on the power-play. The scariest play of the game for me by far though was the 3 on 1 in the third period. It was scary for 2 reasons:
1) How did we blow our positioning that badly? Atlanta was on the defensive and still got a 3 on 1 break
2) Vlasic could not have played that break much worse than he did. On an odd-man rush, defender always takes away the pass. Vlasic took away NOTHING. He didn't take away the shot and left the pass wide open as he valiantly skated backwards and spun in circles. Peverley effortlessly passed the puck to Kane (the pass Vlasic should have taken away), who put the puck into the wide open net. And just like that, HP pavillion was 10,000 people less crowded.
Dump and chase hockey is cool. I think when you have as few puck moving players as we do its the only way. However, as the name of the technique would imply, dump and chase only works when you actually CHASE the puck. Oftentimes we would dump the puck and not make any effort to get it back. And i'm not talking about during line changes, i mean like the whole third period.
4 unanswered goals. Unlimited unanswered questions.
What will Mclellen do to the lines? I can only assume he will shake something up. When will we make a move for a defenseman? it's become painfully obvious that our depth at defense is killing us. How will the sharks respond when the Hurricanes come visit on tuesday? Well that one will be answered in just a few days.
I hope to see the Sharks come out with some intensity on tuesday. It was discouraging to see Joe regain his hesitance to shoot in the third period. I don't know what kind of lines we will be looking at, but I think McGinn needs to get off the Thornton line. I'm glad he was taken off in the third period, but he never really deserved to skate with Joe, I like the kid but he is currently a waste of Joe's passes.
There were still a lot of good things from tonight. Torrey Mitchell looked great on the ice and Heatley and Couture seem to click fairly well. Things just didn't click for our team overall and Mason made some great saves.
I'm going to give the Sharks the benefit of the doubt and say that the fact that they had to wait a whole week had a lot to do with how poorly they played. But a team with Stanley cup aspirations must be mentally tougher than this. And as I was waiting and waiting for someone to step up, before I knew it the game was over. Its a long season my friends. Brighter days are ahead and we WILL bounce back from this. Changes will and must be made, and we will be a better team because of them.