While the title of this review refers to the Sharks ability to finaly cash in on a power play opportunity, it might also have something to do with the fact that I'm finally writing this recap at 7:30 AM.
Perhaps it was the Sharks who inspired me to do so... I squandered every possible chance to write this piece until practically the very last minute, just as the Sharks waited until the final minutes to finally cash in on the man advantage. I make no apologies.
But sorry. And instead of providing you with the in depth analysis from Plank and I that you're accustomed to, I'm just going to chat a little with you about one of the best Sharks games that I've watched all season. If only we were doing this with two large beers to accompany us as we reminisce...
Hot damn that was a crazy game. I don't think I've watched a game that was so frustrating, yet so satisfying, in a long time. It was like eating a Flinstones push-up Popsicle. My hands were sticky, the tube was far to small for my fingers to fit in, and, as always, I came dangerously close to choking on that little plastic thing. But hell, it was delicious.
The Sharks have been a team of issues all season. Yes, there are games where they play terrible and still win. But most of those are games where they can't piece any semblance of cohesiveness together and struggle through a shootout victory. But triumphing over adversity has not been one of their strong suits (ignoring those epic comeback wins).
In tonight's game, they did. I actually thought the team did an all around great job of getting up to play against Dallas. But what's most impressive to me is the fact that they were able to stay focused and ferocious, and avoided falling into the all too familiar trap of complacency.
Say all you want about Devin Setoguchi's two goal outburst, or Logan Couture's overtime winner. The most important goal of the night was Torrey Mitchell's tally which tied the game at 2-2 just 37 seconds after Loui Eriksson got his team the lead. Instead of crumbling under the circumstances, the Sharks roared back. That's the turning point in the game, in my opinion.
Setoguchi's two goals weren't too bad either, and it's great to see him succeed again. Every Sharks fan should hope to see this emergence continue; not only is he helping the team, but he's increasing his trade value from the rock bottom status it was earlier in the year if Doug Wilson decides to go that route.
And what is there to say about Logan Couture? I don't want to get ahead of myself, but he may be the best player to come out of the Sharks system since Patrick Marleau. His snipe job on Kari Lehtonen was fantastic, as was Mitchell's, in fact. When's the last time you saw two shots like that in the same Sharks game?
There were some issues in this one, though, as is implied by the 4-3 OT score. The afformentioned Marleau still can't cash in, and the top line still isn't clicking the way it should be. I thought the defense was porous at times; it was nice to have Huskins back, but you could definitely see him struggle in his first game back from injury (the one assist notwithstanding). I'm interested to see what happens when the entire blue line is healthy, because there are going to be some decisions to make. I don't think you can justify sending Braun down, but if you roll with seven defensemen, who do you scratch with McGinn and Ferriero playing so well?
Oh, and that 1-8 on the power play? That's not going to cut it. Not with this roster.
Lastly, I'll be honest. I'm more confident in Antti Niemi than Antero Niittymaki right now. It's not a popular opinion, but I'll stick with it. Yes, Niittymaki has been the victim of little playing time. But he's looked terrible since late November, not just last night.
Again, my apologies for the delayed post. But I feel that you and I have grown as friends, learned a little about the Sharks, and perhaps a bit about ourselves, this fine December morning.